Look, Listen & Learn
In Conversation with Haben Girma (2020)
Haben Girma was to appear at the 2020 Auckland Writers Festival to discuss her memoir Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Following our cancellation this conversation with ABC's Nas Campanella was recorded via Skype in April.
We are publishing it today, 27 June, to coincide with what would have been the 140th birthday of Helen Keller.
The title of Haben Girma’s “profoundly important” memoir Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law says it all. Girma is the child of Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees. Her career choice was informed, in part, by her wish to help those with disabilities access digital information and technology. She was on the National Federation of the Blind’s legal team when they sued the online document service Scribd for failing to make content fully accessible, and she developed a braille communication system in which typing on a keyboard is pulsed into her fingers.
President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change, Forbes magazine gave her a spot on its list of North American under 30 trailblazers, and she has been the face of a connective technology advertising campaign. She also occasionally surfs, mountain climbs, kayaks and goes horseriding. Haben’s story is a testament to one woman’s determination to show the world the benefits of choosing inclusion.
This podcast is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas in partnership with the UNSW Disability Innovation Institute. Supported by the Auckland Writers Festival.
Note that throughout the recording, you will hear the sound of typing which is Haben's Braille computer. Nas asked the questions which are typed into a keyboard and then converted to Braille for Haben to read.