Episode 185: Haben Girma – The First Deafblind Harvard Law Graduate, Champion Of Change

An internationally acclaimed accessibility leader, Haben Girma has earned recognition as a White House “Champion of Change”, Forbes 30 under 30 leader, and BBC Women of Africa Hero. The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben champions equal access to information for people with disabilities. She has been honored by President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and many others.

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.

Haben has been featured extensively in media round the world, including the BBC, CBS, Forbes, the Washington Post, MTV, NPR, and many more.

Haben grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she currently lives. She holds a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Lewis & Clark College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. In addition to her accessibility work, she enjoys salsa dancing, surfing, and traveling the world.

Episode 185: Haben Girma – The First Deafblind Harvard Law Graduate, Champion Of Change

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The Learning Leader Show

“Excellent leaders are honest about their strengths and weaknesses.”

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Common themes to sustain excellence:
    • Honest about strengths and weaknesses
    • Great problem solvers
    • High level of self-awareness
  • Haben is Deafblind – she understands her strengths and weaknesses very well
  • Her TED Talk – Advocating for others — How and why she champions equal access to information for people with disabilities
  • Communicating and hugging President Barack Obama
  • How she communicates — The use of braille.  For our talk on this podcast, she had an interpreter listen to what I said and then type it out for her to read in braille
  • What are the best ways to communicate with people who are deaf — Haben helps me understand
  • Why you should never tell her that her story inspires you
  • How chocolate cake played a role in her becoming an advocacy attorney
  • What advice given to others who want to go into advocacy? Start with yourself. Maybe there is a gender bias, religious, or racial. Build up from there…
  • Haben describes how she experiences movies
  • The best piece of advice she’s received: Don’t insist on doing something by yourself. Ask for help. Work smart. Sometimes it’s better to be helped by others
  • What she hopes people learn from her speeches? That she continually adds value to others
  • Haben’s thoughts on Helen Keller – She’s brilliant
  • Haben’s brother is also Deafblind — He works in technology
  • How she actively makes a choice to ignore fear
  • Why Uber denied her a ride 3 times and what happened
  • Her Goals: Change our culture — Disability adds value… Trainings & Workshops

Continue Learning:

You may also like these episodes:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 071: Nate Boyer – Green Beret, Texas Football, The NFL

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why

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Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

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