who was.the first blind lawyer

by Juliana Wiegand PhD 7 min read

Haben Girma

Are there any Blind Lawyers in the US?

Jan 03, 2020 · January 03, 2020 7:51 AM Salem Solomon Author Haben Girma, a lawyer who was born deaf and blind and is an advocate for accessibility. (Courtesy Haben Girma) Haben Girma, a lawyer born deaf and...

Who is the first black lawyer in the US?

Geneva Has First Blind Lawyer. Give this article Wireless to THE NEW YORK TIMES. March 15, 1931 The New York Times Archives See the article in …

Who was the first Chinese American to serve as an attorney?

Sep 12, 2019 · Harvard Law's First Deafblind Graduate Tells Her Story The 2013 grad, now a disability rights attorney and advocate in San Francisco, has penned a memoir about her experiences. September 12, 2019...

Who is the first Filipino lawyer in the US?

Nov 20, 2016 · Leila al-Qobbi, who at times was denied career opportunities for disability, has now become Saudi Arabia’s first blind female lawyer


What is Haben Girma famous for?

Haben Girma, both blind and deaf, is a disability rights advocate and attorney who became the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law School in Massachusetts when she graduated with a Juris Doctor degree (JD) in 2013.Jul 23, 2017

Is Haben Girma black?

The daughter of refugees and a black disabled woman, Haben built her path to success on the belief that inclusion is a choice. We all have the power to advocate. Her engaging presentations ignite audiences to make positive changes in their communities.

How does Haben Girma speak?

Girma explained her hearing translator, Arianne, types what people say and do into a special computer that wirelessly feeds the information to a Braille computer Girma holds. She runs her fingers over the dots to read, and she responds through speech.Aug 9, 2019

What famous person was blind and deaf?

Helen KellerHelen Keller, in full Helen Adams Keller, (born June 27, 1880, Tuscumbia, Alabama, U.S.—died June 1, 1968, Westport, Connecticut), American author and educator who was blind and deaf. Her education and training represent an extraordinary accomplishment in the education of persons with these disabilities.Apr 10, 2022

What disability does Alice Wong have?

spinal muscular atrophyShe was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a neuromuscular disorder. Wong stopped walking at the age of 7 or 8.

Who was the first blind and deaf person to go to college?

Helen KellerThe first deaf and blind person to receive a college diploma in the United States was Helen Keller.Jun 6, 1983

Was Haben Girma born deaf and blind?

First Deaf and Blind Harvard Law Graduate Says Accessibility Isn't Charity. Haben Girma, a lawyer born deaf and blind, has advocated for accessibility from her hometown of Oakland, California, all the way to the White House. Now, she has written a book about her journey.Jan 3, 2020

Does Haben Girma use ASL?

But he finally started his own education at age 12, learned English, Braille, and ASL (Girma signs too), and now travels throughout California, teaching disabled people how to use technology that benefits them. At Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon), Girma achieved a civil-rights breakthrough in the cafeteria.

Where was Haben Girma born?

CaliforniaHaben Girma / Place of birth

How did Helen Keller lose her sight and hearing?

In 1882, at 19 months of age, Helen Keller developed a febrile illness that left her both deaf and blind. Historical biographies attribute the illness to rubella, scarlet fever, encephalitis, or meningitis.Oct 15, 2018

Where is Helen Keller buried?

Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.Helen Keller / Place of burialThe Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, commonly known as Washington National Cathedral, is an American cathedral of the Episcopal Church. The cathedral is located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. Wikipedia

Who is the most famous blind person?

10 Famous Blind PeopleStevie Wonder.Ray Charles.Andrea Bocelli.Marla Lee Runyan.John Bramblitt.Pete Eckert.Casey Harris.Helen Keller.More items...•Jul 22, 2019


Moses Levy (1778): First Jewish American male lawyer in the U.S. He would later become a judge.

Judicial officers

Wentworth Cheswell: First African American male Justice of the Peace in the U.S. (1805)

Assistant District Attorney

Leonard Staisey (1948): First blind male lawyer (who later became a judge) to serve as an Assistant District Attorney (1950) in the U.S.

How did Dr. Girma work in law school?

She set up a series of systems to make law school work well for her including getting all assigned readings in a digital form so she could either listen to them on her computer — she has some ability to hear high-pitched sounds — or read them on a Braille display. During class Girma had a voice transliterator in the back of the room who would narrate the discussion for her, transmitting from their microphones into her earphones. Sounds amplification worked for her in quiet environments but for noisier spaces, she developed a two-keyboard system to communicate in groups. People can type into a Bluetooth keyboard, and the words pop up on a Braille for Girma to read. “This system has let me communicate everywhere,” she told the Harvard Law Daily, “from the loudest dance club to HLS receptions.”

Where did Dr. Girma work?

After law school, Girma went to work for Disability Rights Advocates, a non-profit in Berkeley, CA. According to her official bio on the organization's website, "Working to increase access to technology for people with disabilities, she helped achieve victory in National Federation of the Blind v. Scribd, one of only two decisions to hold that the ADA applies to virtual businesses." The case involved arguing that Scribd was required under the law to make materials in their online library accessible to the blind. After settling the case out of court, Scribd agreed to do so in 2017.

Where did Saba Gebreyesus live?

She eventually resettled in California and met Haben's father, another immigrant from Ethiopia. Haben was born in 1988 and attended public schools in Oakland. She told the Harvard Law Bulletin : “My parents tried very hard to make sure I had access to everything, and consequently I grew up thinking I could have access to everything.”

Who is Haben Girma?

Haben Girma wears a lot of hats: she is a lawyer, a disability rights advocate, a 2013 White House Champions of Change honoree, a ballroom dancer and now the author of a new memoir. She does this as all as a Deafblind person. Girma is a child of Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants. She grew up in Oakland California. She was born Deafblind and attended public school, where she learned sign language, spoken English and Braille. She uses a combination of accommodations to communicate with those around her, including a system she devised where a typist inputs spoken conversation into a keyboard that is linked via Bluetooth to a real-time Braille reader so that Girma can participate in the conversation as it happens. She can answer using spoken English.

What was the challenge for GIrma?

When GIrma began college at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, she faced challenges in the cafeteria: because the food station menus were posted on the wall, she could not access them and, instead, walked to a station and took whatever she was served. Her classmates got to make informed choices about their meals but she never got those choices and felt like she deserved to know what was at all the food stations. She joked to NPR: "What if there was chocolate cake at Station Four?" She asked to have the cafeteria menu made accessible to her electronically so that she could have it translated to Braille but the cafeteria manager wasn't reliable about doing so and said he was too busy to honor the request. Girma says that at that point “I explained that Title III of the ADA requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities; if the cafeteria refused to do this, I would sue.” The menu started to arrive in her email inbox regularly after that. Moreover, the following year, a newly enrolled blind student was also able to take advantage of the system Girma had set up.



Firsts nationwide

• George Lewis Ruffin (1869): First African American male to earn a law degree in the U.S. (1869)
• Sit Ming Cook: First Chinese male to seek a legal education in the U.S., but was denied admission to a law school (c. 1878)
• Hong Yen Chang (1888): First Chinese male immigrant to earn a law degree in the U.S. (1886)

Firsts in individual states

• List of first minority male lawyers and judges in Alabama
• List of first minority male lawyers and judges in Alaska
• List of first minority male lawyers and judges in Arizona
• List of first minority male lawyers and judges in Arkansas

Firsts in Washington, D.C. (Federal District)

• List of first minority male lawyers and judges in Washington D.C. (Federal District)

Firsts in the territories of the US

• List of first minority male lawyers and judges in the Territories of the US

See also

• Lawyer [International]
• List of African American jurists [United States]
• List of Asian American jurists [United States]
• List of Hispanic/Latino American jurists [United States]

Other topics of interest

• List of African-American jurists
• List of Asian American jurists
• List of Hispanic/Latino American jurists
• List of Jewish American jurists