Haben Girma was the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law School. Today the Eritrean-American fights for better education for deaf-blind people worldwide. Ms Girma was born in California after her mother fled Eritrea in the early 1980s.
Growing up in the US school system, she benefited from accessible technology, such as a digital Braille device – something her elder brother, who is also deaf-blind, was denied in Eritrea.
Now she is working as a lawyer to try to improve access to this technology and challenge expectations of people with disabilities.
Earlier this year, she met US President Barack Obama.
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African female student becomes Harvard Law’s first deaf and blind graduate
A young lady of African descent, Haben Girma has become the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law.
By Olamide Oni,
27 year-old Haben Girma has inspired many as she became the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School in the US.
Haben Girma’s story is an inspiration to many as she was able to achieve her goals despite physical disabilities. Her courage and determination is certainly worth applauding.
Girma, who was born deaf and blind, now advocates for the civil rights of persons with disabilities. She provided the introductory remarks for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] at the White House.
During her remarks, she noted that in Eritrea (where she is from), “there was simply no chance,” for deaf-blind children to go to school. Her grandmother had difficulties finding a school in Eritrea for Haben’s older brother, also born deaf-blind.
Fortunately, Girma’s family was able to move to the United States where she had access to opportunities afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While describing how some of her family back in Eritrea are taking this huge feat of hers, she says, “For my grandmother back in Africa, my success in law school seemed like magic.”
Her academic achievements, a “J.D. in 2013 from Harvard, and her B.A., magna cum laude, in 2010 from Lewis & Clark College” have indeed catapulted her advocacy career which have seen her fighting for the rights of people with disabilities.