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Inspirational Takeaways: Haben Girma

Posted on April 22, 2019 by All In

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By Mike Rourke, Head of Client Service (Asia), Lloyds Banking Group

[Editor’s note: Haben Girma is the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School and an American disability rights advocate.]

Haben Girma on stage with Georgette Tan Adamopoulos, me (Mikey) and her assistant. I am typing on a keyboard my question to her which she then is able to read through a special Braille device.


I’m beyond inspired!

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a Singapore Committee for UN Women event with Haben Girma as the speaker.

She was fantastic, she is an amazing salsa dancer, surfer and a Harvard law grad. She advocates for disability rights passionately.


These were my takeaways:

– Disability drives innovation.

– A deaf inventor developed the protocols that enabled email, allowing him to communicate better with his friends.

– We love to share our photos but we never describe what’s in them. The visually impaired can use text-to-speech tools and share in the joy if you include descriptive text.

– Blind people use cameras too! They allow them to share moments, get questions answered [such as] “what is this?” and communicate with others.

– Last and most importantly, the world is beautiful and it’s too easy for us to forget [this fact]! Cherish your friends, the people you meet and the simple joy of every experience!


Haben is deafblind, and her story inspired me. I hope if you look at her story it’ll inspire you too. I can’t do it justice here!


This post was originally published on LinkedIn and reproduced with permission here. Slight edits were made for clarity.