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About Haben

Photo of Haben

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. On August 6 she will publish her first book, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Preorder your copy.

Her work has been featured in the Financial Times, BBC, Washington Post, NPR, and more. Review Haben’s brief guide on producing positive disability stories.

Speaking & Consulting

Haben offers accessibility and diversity training, consulting, and professional speaking services. Haben combines her knowledge of law, sociology, and technology to teach clients the benefits of fully accessible products and services. Her insights help to expand our thinking, creating lasting, positive change among people and communities.

Topics

Disability & Innovation: The Universal Benefits of Inclusive Design

People with disabilities represent the largest minority group, numbering 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. Watch Haben teach 4,000 developers the connection between disability & innovation at Apple’s 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Leadership and Advocacy

The daughter of refugees, a Black woman, and disabled, Haben developed a powerful path to success, rooted in her belief that inclusion is a choice. We all have the power to advocate for positive change. Becoming a leader begins by role-modeling the change we need in this world. Haben provides valuable insights that help people become better leaders. Watch Haben share leadership advice with St. Catherine University’s graduates in her Commencement Address.

Communication Strategies for a Winning Story

Powerful stories drive successful businesses. Compelling stories communicate what sets an organization apart and how that difference serves as an advantage. Haben Girma is a talented storyteller who helps people frame difference as an asset. Born Deafblind, Haben fought off low expectations, choosing to create her own pioneering story that has led to international acclaim. Through an engaging presentation, Haben provides participants with communication strategies for developing a winning story.

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)
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

Book

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.’

Haben’s book, Haben: The Deafblind Woman who Conquered Harvard, comes out August 6th, and can be preordered today.

See the Book page for more detail.

Amazon Apple Books
Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million
IndieBound Powell’s
Target Walmart

Recent News

Mylo and I Imagine Driving an Autonomous Car

I’m excited for a future where accessible self-driving cars are a reality. People with disabilities stand to benefit the most from self-driving cars, but developers are not making accessibility enough of a priority. Waiting until a product is “finished” to start thinking about accessibility is like completing construction of a skyscraper and then tearing part of it down to install an elevator. Planning for accessibility from the start saves resources and results in an overall better product.

I partnered with Ericsson on a short film to spotlight the need for fully accessible autonomous vehicles. Technology designed with access in mind will advance equal opportunities for people with disabilities, increasing our ability to work, study, and travel with ease and freedom. The companies that choose to prioritize accessibility benefit from tapping into the significant market of over 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the world. If we plan for it, tech will create a barrier-free future.

View The Film

It has captions, a transcript, and audio descriptions. Audio descriptions provide spoken narration of key visual details, enhancing the experience for blind viewers. If you’ve never experienced it, open Settings on the film page and turn on audio descriptions — You may discover something new.

Enjoy!

June 19th, 2019|

My new book received a glowing review!

After writing, editing, and rewriting for over two years, I’m thrilled to bring this book into the world.

Publishers Weekly, the insider’s guide to the book world, released an enthusiastic review:

“With wit and passion, Haben, a disability rights lawyer, public speaker, and the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law, takes readers through her often unaccommodating world… This is a heartwarming memoir of a woman who champions access and dignity for all.”
PW Starred Review.

Preorder

The book comes out on August 6.

You can preorder it on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, Powells, Target, and Walmart.

Summary

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 incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.

Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn’t see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents’ harrowing experiences during Eritrea’s thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to […]

April 23rd, 2019|