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25-year-old woman becomes the first-ever blind and deaf person to graduate from US university, shines across the world

Haben Girma, 25, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the first blind and deaf person to get a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Despite being both blind and deaf, Haben Girma, who has become a global celebrity for her extraordinary achievement, graduated with a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) from Harvard Law School in 2013.

As a result of an unidentified degenerative disease that started in early childhood, Girma lost both her hearing and vision, keeping only 1% of her vision. She benefited from civil rights laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, in her early years in the country.

She also possessed accessible technology, such as a reading aid that used digital Braille. At the age of 17, she received her diploma from Skyline High School in the United States.

Habren defines disability as a chance for ingenuity in her autobiography, which described how she had to learn to navigate a world made for individuals who can see and hear.

She described how she acquired non-visual skills for anything from salsa dancing to using an electric saw. She added that Girma’s Braille computer is fed wirelessly with information from Arianne, her hearing translator, who types what people say and do into a specialized computer.

She runs her fingers over the dots to read, and she responds through speech. “My parents came to the United States seeking opportunities, and they found it’s not geography that creates freedom; it’s people and communities that create freedom,” Girma said.

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