Home2021-02-27T23:20:33-08:00

About Haben

The book cover shows Haben Girma in profile, confidently facing forward in a blue dress. The background is a warm red, and white text over the bottom half of the image says, ‘Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Haben Girma.’

The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma is a human rights lawyer advancing disability justice. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and TIME100 Talks. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben. Haben believes disability is an opportunity for innovation, and she teaches organizations the importance of choosing inclusion. The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, and TODAY Show featured her memoir, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.

Haben was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she currently lives. Her memoir takes readers on adventures around the world, including her parents’ homes in Eritrea and Ethiopia, building a school under the scorching Saharan sun, training with a guide dog in New Jersey, climbing an iceberg in Alaska, fighting for blind readers at a courthouse in Vermont, and talking with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating book is a testament to Haben’s determination to resist isolation and find the keys to connection.

The hard cover, paperback, eBook, and audiobook (narrated by Haben herself) are available at most bookstores. Learn more at the book page.

Speaking & Consulting

Choosing accessibility is not just about legal requirements, it’s also good business. Disabled people are the largest historically underrepresented group, numbering over one billion worldwide. Reaching a group of this scale creates value for everyone. Organizations that prioritize accessibility benefit by gaining access to a much larger audience, improving the experience for both disabled and nondisabled people, and facilitating further innovation. Haben explains in this article, originally published in the Financial Times, “People with disabilities drive innovation.”

Haben provides consulting and public speaking on accessibility, diversity, and leadership. Her presentations have touched organizations as wide-ranging as Apple, GE, Lenovo, Microsoft, the New York Times, Oxford Law, Pearson Education, Stanford, and SXSW. The daughter of refugees and a black disabled woman, Haben built her path to success on the belief that inclusion is a choice. We all have the power to advocate. Her engaging presentations ignite audiences to make positive changes in their communities.

A brief disability accessibility guide.

Contact

Send speaking requests, media inquiries, and other questions to:

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Haben talks with President Obama at the White House 25th Anniversary celebration of the ADA. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Photo by Pete Souza

Haben and President Obama stand together at celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ADA at the White House

Photo by Pete Souza

What People Say About Haben

Thank you so much, Haben, for that amazing introduction, and for working to make sure that students with disabilities get a world-class education, just like you have. So please give Haben a big round of applause.

President Barack Obama

She got out of Harvard, and you know what she’s doing? She is an advocate for opportunities for people with disabilities. Because in fact they have enormous ability, and all over the world that ability is going untapped, diminishing their lives and the rest of ours as well. So let’s give her a big round!

President Bill Clinton

I wish to take this opportunity, as well, to recognize you for your lifelong advocacy for people with disabilities, especially for the deaf-blind community. As a teacher and Prime Minister, I am particularly grateful for your work to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the tools they need to thrive at school and beyond. When our society is inclusive, we are all better off.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Sample Video

Events

Recent News

Haben is featured in Levi’s Beauty of Becoming campaign

I was born Deafblind, but I wasn’t born an advocate. Resisting ableism, racism and other forms of oppression is exhausting, ongoing work. We all face the choice to accept oppression or advocate for justice.

Video created and directed by Oge Egbuonu. Music by Phantogram. Portrait photography by Shaniqwa Jarvis. Campaign by Levi’s. #LevisBecoming

Video description

I’m wearing a denim blue jacket over a soft black tee. My straightened & styled dark hair flows past my shoulders. As I speak, the video alternates between scenes of me sitting in front of a brown background with green leaves and pink floral arrangements, sitting within a gold picture frame with pastel colored florals, walking with my guide dog through a labyrinth of hedges with colorful flowers, and typing on a Perkins Brailler stationed on a wooden desk in the center of the sweet-smelling labyrinth. A photo of my book, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law appears, along with an image of President Barack Obama and me at the White House.

HABEN (speaking)
My name is Haben Girma. I’m a Black woman. I’m also disabled. So I experience both racism and ableism in a society that struggles with those two. Disability is an opportunity for innovation. If you face a challenge, that’s an opportunity to come up with a brand new solution, and that solution could end up helping not only you, but the entire community. The disability community is full of these examples. Yes, there’s a challenge. The challenge […]

February 28th, 2021|