Helen Keller billboard causing a buzz

TUSCUMBIA, AL (WAFF) - Two new billboards in the Valley highlighting a Shoals tourist attraction are causing reaction from passing motorists.

The advertisement is supposed to attract people to the birthplace of Helen Keller in Tuscumbia, but some say it is offensive.  Both billboards are on Interstate 65.

The billboard has a photo of a young Helen Keller and reads, "See what she couldn't."

One of the billboards is just south of Athens, the other down the road near Cullman. One faces north and the other south.  They have only been up a few weeks, and are already causing a buzz.

John Sasser, of Tuscumbia, said, "I thought it was very offense."

Barbara Auch, of Athens, was visiting the birthplace of Helen Keller today.  Auch said, "I could kind of see it because she was blind, come see what she couldn't, but I don't think there was any ill intent."

Others in Tuscumbia could see how the sign could be misinterpreted.

Blake Ellett, of Tuscumbia, said, "They might not understand the full history of the Shoals area, it come off as a joke to them."

Elizabeth Zuelke, of Tuscumbia, said, "I was really upset about it, Helen Keller is one of our heroes."

Twyla Hyde just moved to the Shoals a few years ago.  When she saw the billboard, she thought it was insightful.  Hyde said, "It shows we can see what she couldn't, but at the same time I believe she could see in her mind's eye."

Helen Keller's birthplace brings more than 60,000 visitors a year to the Shoals.  Catchy advertising is key in bringing new tourist to the area.

Auch said, "I really didn't have much of a reaction, I knew it was an ad."

Hyde added, "She was extremely intelligent woman, and I don't believe herself would be bothered by that."

Colbert County tourism and the Helen Keller home teamed up to create the sign.  They tell us they mean no disrespect by the billboard, and they just hope more people will come visit.

You can contact Josh at jault@waff.com