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, and Forbes recognized her in Forbes 30 Under 30. Haben travels the world consulting and public speaking, teaching clients the benefits of fully accessible products and services. Because of her disability rights advocacy she has been honored by President Obama, President Clinton, and many others.
Haben has been featured extensively in media around the world, including the BBC, NBC, Forbes, NPR, GOOD Magazine, the Washington Post, and many more.
Haben grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she currently lives. Her parents came to America from Eritrea and Ethiopia. Their stories of life during the Eritrea-Ethiopian War and their journey as refugees taught Haben resilience at an early age.
Growing up, Haben witnessed advocates using the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to increase opportunities. Impressed by the success of these advocates, Haben felt inspired to join them. Back then, and even now, she encountered many barriers in the digital world. Not because of her disability, but because of attitudes among tech developers that trivialized access for people with disabilities.
Haben earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2013, and that same year she became a member of the California Bar. She now travels the world consulting and public speaking. 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.
People with disabilities represent the largest minority group, numbering 1.3 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 is a talented storyteller who helps people frame difference as an asset. She resisted society’s low expectations, choosing to create her own pioneering story. Her latest book, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, was a New York Times “New & Noteworthy” Pick, an Oprah Magazine “Book of the Month” favorite, and a Publishers Weekly Bestseller.