It Changed My Life: The deaf-blind lawyer fighting for the disabled

Harvard Law School's first deaf-blind graduate says disability is an opportunity for innovation

An adventurous soul, Miss Girma loves to surf and do the salsa. She also rides horses and has fun on the paddle board. Miss Haben Girma, disability rights lawyer and champion of inclusive technology, says her story is not the exception. "There are lo
Miss Haben Girma, disability rights lawyer and champion of inclusive technology, says her story is not the exception. "There are lots of people with disabilities who are talented and brilliant. It's up to society to remove the barriers so that they can contribute."ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Miss Girma with then US President Barack Obama on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015.
Miss Girma with then US President Barack Obama on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015.PHOTO: COURTESY OF HABEN GIRMA
An adventurous soul, Miss Girma loves to surf and do the salsa. She also rides horses and has fun on the paddle board. Miss Haben Girma, disability rights lawyer and champion of inclusive technology, says her story is not the exception. "There are lo
An adventurous soul, Miss Girma loves to surf and do the salsa. She also rides horses and has fun on the paddle board. PHOTO: COURTESY OF HABEN GIRMA

Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind graduate from Harvard Law School, is sitting in the living room of the US ambassador's residence in Singapore, giving me a crash course in communication.

Nervous about committing a social faux pas, I'd used "hearing and vision-impaired" to describe her disabilities.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline 'She picked her battles and made her mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe