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Haben Girma was born in Oakland, California, on July 28, 1988. She was born deafblind. Her mother is originally from Eritrea and came to the United States as a refugee in 1983 to escape the Eritrea War of Independence against Ethiopia. Girma’s father is of Ethiopian descent. Her early education took place in Oakland Public Schools. The 1990 passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act supported Girma in receiving an inclusive education. The Americans With Disabilities Act outlawed discrimination based on disability. Girma uses a braille assistive technology device to read.
She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 2010 from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. While there, she successfully got the college to put its cafeteria menu system in braille. After graduating from Lewis and Clark, she was accepted into Harvard Law School. Girma was the first deafblind student to attend Harvard Law School, graduating in 2013. The same year, she joined the staff of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) in Berkeley, California, providing legal services to individuals with disabilities. In 2015 Girma was recognized by the Obama administration.
She left Disability Rights Advocates in 2016 to pursue non-litigation advocacy full-time. Girma currently resides in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area. She is the author of “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.”.
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