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 advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, and a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben. Haben believes disability is an opportunity for innovation. She travels the world teaching the benefits of choosing inclusion.

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 New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Today Show, and others have featured Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. The hard cover, 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. People with disabilities represent the largest minority 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 user base, improving the experience for both disabled and non-disabled users, 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.


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)
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 Videos


We’re staying home and doing our part to flatten the curve. We’ll post our events once it’s safe to travel again.

Recent News

My First New York Times essay, plus book updates

I published my very first essay in the New York Times! The essay appears in the Times’ special edition celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: “What the A.D.A. Means to Me.”

Today Hachette Book Group is releasing the paperback version of my book, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. It’s available as a hard cover, paperback, ebook, or an audiobook in my own voice. So many choices! We’re also trying to get the book into more libraries.

And there’s more good news: the book is now available in Korean! This is the first translation of my memoir. It’s incredibly rewarding to know my work is reaching people around the world.

It’s been a difficult summer. Please stay safe and advocate for justice when you can.

August 11th, 2020|

Service Dog Teams Need Your Help, and You Can Do This From Home

As we stay home and practice physical distancing, there is something we can do to help protect our ability to fly with our dogs in the future. The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed adding new restrictions for service dogs traveling on airplanes, chipping away at the freedoms advocates fought for decades to protect. My comments below are based on those from The Seeing Eye. You’re welcome to use them as you prepare your own comments. The deadline is April 6, and here’s the link to submit your comment to the U.S. Department of Transportation: Federal Register: Traveling by Air With Service Animals.

To: The U.S. Department of Transportation
From: Haben Girma
Date: April 5th, 2020
Re: Docket No. DOT-OST-2018-0068, RIN No. 2105-AE63 – Traveling by Air with Service Animals, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

I am blind and have been traveling with a guide dog since 2009. My German Shepherd guide dog trained extensively at The Seeing Eye, and I spent nearly a month training with him at the guide dog school. As a disability advocate, public speaker, and author I fly frequently. When I’m in the air, Mylo sleeps curled up by my feet. He’s a superb traveler, earning the admiration of flight attendants from coast to coast. The proposed changes to 14 C.F.R. 382 outlined below will make it more difficult for us to fly together, more difficult for me to do my job, and more difficult for me to serve my community. This letter reflects my concerns […]

April 1st, 2020|