Haben Girma: First Ever Deaf-Blind Graduate In Harvard Law School History

What takes the blame for not living up to your maximum potentials? Haben Girma is proof that absolutely nothing is qualified to steal your dreams from you.

Haben Girma is a lawyer and disability rights advocate.

Born to an Eritrean mum and an Ethiopian dad, Haben was born deaf and blind. Both parents met in California and started a family there. Haben has an elder brother who is equally deaf-blind.

Just like any other person who suffers a form of disability, Haben had and probably still has her challenges. Nonetheless this 28-year old strong-spirited amazon is going through life not with pity but prowess.

Her physical limitations has technically not tampered with series of her successes.

See Also: From The Miltary To Disability And Then To US Senator – The Inspiring Story Of Tammy Duckworth

Growing up in a technologically advanced and civilized society like the United States was indeed a plus for Haben. She coped with her education with the help of a digital braille device.

Electronic braille display on computers helps blind computer users to read text output.

She also benefited from the Americans with Disabilities Act which made certain basic provisions to the likes of Haben. The 1990 US labor law prohibits all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities.


In 2010, the brilliant  and resilient African girl graduated from Lewis & Clark with a distinction. Later she graduated from Harvard Law School as the first ever deaf-blind student to do so in the school’s history.

At age 15, Haben Girma travelled to Mali as a Volunteer worker with buildOn on school construction projects.

After her graduation from Harvard, Haben Girma joined Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) in Berkeley, California. Wikipedia records that the young lady worked there as a staff attorney from 2015-2016; defending the rights of people with disabilities.

From DRA, Girma took up a full-time non-litigation advocacy in April 2016.

That same year she was recognized by Pacific Standard as one of their Top 30 Thinkers Under 30. Likewise she was one of Forbes 30 under 30, Law & Policy.

See Also: Disability Innovators: Giving Disability A New Face In Africa

She has proved that though life may not be fair, living it to the fullest is our decision to make. Haben also proven that the worst form of limitation is living without a purpose.

Life threw her into a condition she would ordinarily not choose but she refused to be conditioned by it.

Haben had suggested that her vocation as a lawyer was motivated by her condition. She speaks up for people in her shoes who may not be privileged with access to digital services; and whose rights are being trampled upon.

Haben Girma

“Digital information is just ones and zeroes…It can be converted into any kind of format. And those people who develop these services – programmers, technology designers – they have an incredible power to increase access for people with disabilities. And I hope they use it.”

It is her desire to foster an attitudinal change in people around the world over the issue of disability.

Haben Girma has met with a couple of US presidents on grounds of disability advocacy. Obama’s administration dubbed her the Champion of Change.