Transcript of Haben Girma interview with Mitch Jackson on August 5, 2020

Transcript of Haben Girma interview with Mitch Jackson

Introduction: The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma, advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, and a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben, who is also the author of, “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.”

Mitch: Haben, it’s so good to see you on this evening’s live video. How are you?

Haben: Hi, I’m doing great. It’s thanks for having me on your show.

Mitch: Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. It’s uh, it’s wonderful to share you with our audience. We are broadcasting live on Facebook and Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and Periscope. To get things started, And why don’t you share with everyone how we’re communicating tonight?

Haben: Good question. So I’m deaf blind and have limited vision and hearing the way I am accessing Mitch’s words is through braille and I’m going to hold up a device. I’m holding up a computer with braille on the bottom. I run my fingers over the device. As Mitch speaks, Gordon is listening and typing. What’s being said, and those words are coming up on my braille computer. So throughout this conversation, if people submit questions, if Mitch has more questions, they’re going to come up with braille and then I’ll respond back by voice.

Mitch: Well, we have lots of question Haben, and I watched you and got a chance to first meet you a few years ago in new Orleans, which was fantastic. But I was thinking about you yesterday because when I came back from my run, what I almost stepped on was a large diamond back rattlesnake. And I noticed in your Facebook post yesterday, you also had a snake incident, two snake incidents. Why don’t you share that with us?

Haben: So when I was 15 years old, my father told me that there aren’t snakes in Mali, West Africa. And therefore, I should not go to Mali West Africa to help build a school. I really wanted to participate in a volunteer program to help build schools in Mali. But my dad knew I was afraid of snakes. So, he said, what if there’s a snake on the pack? You won’t see it. And because you’re deaf blind, you probably won’t hear it either. Then what’s going to happen to you. And he was right. I wouldn’t be able to see the snake, but sighted people sometimes don’t see snakes either. In fact, Mitch just told us he almost didn’t see a snake. Can you tell us what happened, Mitch?

Mitch: Well, I was shooting a video for my mastermind and when I turned around Haben, I started to take a few more steps. And just like you, the snake, uh, for me blended in with the asphalt surface I was running on. But I understand that you and Milo and Gordon had an incident yesterday that you shared on Facebook.

Haben: Yes, so something similar happened to me recently. I live in the Bay area and I’ve told my father countless times there are snakes here. And we just need to be able to respect the world around us, including the wild things in the world around us. So I was hiking well, not really hiking, it was more of a resident point residential area in the Bay area. I was walking down the path with my guide dog Milo. Gordon was also there says with a sighted dog and a sighted human, and both of them were looking around, but occasionally you miss things. So I was running with Myla. I was jogging. He was kind of walking trotting and then Gordon told us to stop. If he went back up the Hill and came back down and my guide dog had taken me past a rattlesnake, it was on the road on the side of the road and we just walked past it. Gordon walked past it too, and only noticed it afterwards. So there, there are dangers sight is sometimes helpful in spotting, but that’s not a guarantee that you’ll see everything and fear should not hold you back. Fear is a reminder to be thoughtful, be respectful, be aware and informed, but it’s not a reason to hold you back. There’s a careful balancing act of, of being adventurous and wanting to learn about the world and our differences, and also being cautious and informed

Mitch: Well Haben, I’ve just put up a picture of you on a surfboard and a pretty big wave. So talk about, uh, putting yourself out there, what I’m trying to do, everybody, Haben and I were discussing this as we want to, uh, share in different, in different ways, what we’re presenting, whether it’s in a video and audio, a blog posts, and we’re going to talk about the American disabilities act in different ways that we can include everyone in the conversation. But Haben, I just wanted you to know, I just shared your surfing picture with the world. Let’s go back to when you were a little girl growing up for those viewers who haven’t read your book yet—get Haben’s book, it’s great. Can you share with us your early childhood, growing up some of the other lessons you learned from your father and what led you to decide to become a lawyer and eventually end up at Harvard law school?

Haben: I was born with deaf blindness and I had more vision and hearing when I was younger and it’s gotten worse over the years. Most of the world around me is designed for people who can stay in here, including my schools. I went to mainstream public schools in Oakland, California. They had a teacher for the blind who would work with the mainstream teacher to ensure that course materials were in braille, that I had access to different parts of the programs at school, but it was, it was a battle to ensure that I had full access. I’m part of generation ADA. I’m part of that lucky group of people who grew up with all of the advantages of the Americans with disabilities act, the ADA is a law, so it didn’t change things overnight. Not everyone decided to comply with the law. So there’s still many barriers. Schools, companies choosing not to follow the ADA. Maybe they don’t know how to make schools and websites accessible, or maybe they’ve heard about it and I’ve chosen not to. So after experiencing so many barriers growing up, I just decided rather than just tolerating and accepting all the unfairness, I wanted to be part of the change and help meet differences. I made this decision when I was in college, I went to school at Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon, and at Lewis and Clark, they had a cafeteria where menus were posted only in print sighted. Students could read them in news as a blind student, I couldn’t read a menu that was only in print. So I went to the cafeteria manager asked, can you post the menu in braille or posted online or email it to me? I have assistive technology. Then I’ll ask me to use email and websites. The manager said they’re very busy. They have over a thousand students that don’t have time to do special things for students with special needs. Just to be clear, eating is not a special need. Everyone needs to eat. There’s a myth that there are two kinds of people dependent and independent, not true. We’re all interdependent. Everyone has a time in their life when they’re depending on other people, especially right now during the pandemic, many of us are depending on pods of communities, family members, to help keep ourselves to help get access to food and shelter. So all of us are interdependent. The cafeteria manager did not understand this for several months. I just tolerated the situation. I was a vegetarian. It’s really hard to eat vegetarian. If you don’t know what the food options are. I would go to a station at Mandan, get food behind the table, try the food and discovered unpleasant surprise. But what was I supposed to do? Maybe that was just life. As a disabled student, maybe inferior services was something I should just get used to. I thought about it. Talk to friends. And after a while I realized it’s my choice. It’s our choice to accept and fairness or advocate for justice. I did research. Then I went back to the cafeteria manager and explained the Americans with disabilities act prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities. And if you don’t provide access to the menu, I’m going to take legal action. I had no idea how to do that. I was 19. I couldn’t afford a lawyer. Now I know they’re nonprofit legal centers that help students with disabilities. But back then, I didn’t know that. All I knew is I had to try. I had to do something the next day, the cafeteria manager apologized and promised to make the menus accessible. I was skeptical. I did not immediately believe him, but over time, the menus were coming in consistently, successfully. I had access to what each of the stations were serving and could go straight to the vegetarian options. Life became delicious. Next year, a new blind student came to the college and he had immediate access to the menus that taught me when I advocate. It’s not just about me. It’s about all the students who come after me. When you break down a barrier, you’re helping a whole community. In 2010, I started at Harvard law as the first deaf blind student. Harvard told me we’ve never had a deaf blind student before. And I told them I’ve never been to Harvard law school. We didn’t know what was going to happen but we engaged in an interactive process to find the solutions and make it work. So in 2013 I graduated and I started working in class action litigation, mostly focusing on the ADA, but other civil rights laws too. And I did that for a few years, then switched over to consulting, speaking, and writing. I published a book, which you shared the cover up Mitch called “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law.” I see that because I want to put the emphasis on Harvard making changes. A lot of people say, I, my disability, it didn’t, I’m still disabled. I’m still deaf blind. It was Harvard that had a lot of ableism that blocked access with disabled students. For many years, they overcame some of their ableism. There’s still access barriers at Harvard and as a society. And we still have a long way to go to make a communities more inclusive for disabled people.

Mitch: So Haben, what are some things that we can do to make our offline and especially our online digital communities right now with COVID-19. How can we make it more inclusive? What would you like us to do? It’s such a broad question.

Haben: That’s actually two questions in one. And then within those two questions are so many questions. Um, I’m going to start with the easiest one. We’re on video right now. How do we make video more accessible to more people? One part is audio descriptions. When you were posting photos, you’d describe what’s in the photo that helps provide access for blind individuals who are watching the video and want to know what’s happening. Text on the video. If you post an image with text, such as a flyer, I have image descriptions. So that same video, if you post about us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, ad image descriptions in the post and on Twitter. Twitter has a feature where you can add image descriptions and it doesn’t affect your word. Count your character account. You have to go into settings and turn it on and it’s called image descriptions. So then when you ever add a photo to a tweet, you can add an image description. If the photo has the letters, there’s a notation on the bottom left corner, it has an image description.

Mitch: I love that. And it’s something that when I watch you post on social media Haben, I observe that you describe what’s going on so that everyone can appreciate, regardless of sight, sound, touch distance in person online, they can appreciate what you’re experiencing. And that’s something I think we can all do much better to be more inclusive and in creating a community together to make the world a better place. Speaking about making the world a better place, a friend of mine posted, and he’s a dog lover, his name’s Nick Rishwain, and he’s the VP at, so we glanced over Milo, but can you tell everyone who Milo is and how Milo is a big part of your life?

Haben: Milo is a very specific time of guy dog. Seeing eye is a school in New Jersey. So if you say guide dog, it can mean various different trained dogs that assist blind individuals in navigation, there’s guide dog schools all over the country, about 13 throughout the United States and the ones near me in California. Unfortunately don’t train German shepherds. And I really wanted a German shepherd because I think they look a lot cuter than labs. So I would all the way to New Jersey. So I could train with the best guide dog in the world. And that’s my Milo, and I’m not biased at all (big smile).

Mitch: Haben, it’s, it’s so much fun to, uh, it’s so much fun to know you and to have heard your story from the stage. And I wish I had hours and hours to share the story that Lisa and I heard when you were on stage at Clio. One of the takeaways was what you were getting at before I interrupted you and asked you about Milo. And that is about being inclusive. And you contributed a chapter to my book. It was chapter 48. And in the chapter you talked about people avoiding victimizing language when it comes to, when it comes to communicating– in inclusion. Can you tell us a little bit more what you mean by that? Because I know it’s important to you.

Haben: Yes. Words are powerful. Language is powerful. So I could say I suffer from blindness or I could say I am blind. You can sense the big difference between those two statements. One is victimizing suffering. Another one is stating a fact stating a way of life. I am not ashamed of my blindness or deafness or deaf blindness just as I’m not that I’m black or a woman or a California. So when we talk about disability, let’s talk without tip telling around disability related words. So another way of telling around a topic is to overstress that someone is a person. So for example, seeing a person with a wheelchair, it should be obvious that that person is a person. And we shouldn’t have to remind ourselves that that person is a person, but we have this practice of trying to, trying to avoid stigma by adopting another practice that actually perpetuates stigma, linguistics to linguistic gymnastics is another form of stigma. So try to be comfortable and not, not be ashamed when talking about disability and avoid victimizing language, just, just be honest and direct, but also follow someone’s lead. There may be an individual who is still struggling with change, and maybe doesn’t want to identify as disabled honor where they are in their journey of that moment. Listen to people, how they identify and respect the words and language.

Mitch: Haven, I want you to know that the comments that are coming in, uh, we have handclaps that are being displayed on the screen by our viewers. We’ve got lots of favorable, thumbs up being displayed by our viewers and for the, for that everyone. Uh, thank you. Uh, Nicole Abboud and I’ve just put her comment up people first language, always. Now their words pay attention to the humans involved in the conversation. Speaking of conversations and speaking of inclusion, Haben, let’s go back. If you don’t mind to why you decided to write your book, what were the reasons behind it and what were the biggest challenges that you had during the process of either writing or finding a publisher or getting it out there into the world? We have a lot of writers in the audience. So I’d like to share your experience with them.

Haben: For many, many years, people would tell me, you should write a book. You should write a book. And I would tell them I’m too busy living my life to write a book. Cause I always imagined writers as people locked away in caves and engaging with the world around them. And I’m constantly curious and wanting to engage with the world around me as an advocate. I’m always asking myself, what else can I do to make our world better? And I realized stories are powerful in teaching people to be more inclusive. And I wanted to develop stories that would help teach people about ableism. Ableism is the widespread belief that disabled people are inferior to non-disabled people. We’re not inferior, but this myth is all over our culture. So the story is in my book, highlight examples of ableism and how it intersects with sexism and racism and other forms of oppression. When people learn these stories and process it through, through my own personal anecdotes, they’re more likely to understand ableism and then identify it in their own communities and help advocate.

Mitch: So, Haven, if you don’t mind, let me ask you a question or make a comment. When I met you and chatted with you in New Orleans, I sat next to you at a table and watched in real time. Um, the communication process, when I’m nodding my head, when I’m smiling, those little nuances are, can be communicated to you, uh, by Gordon, depending on what he does or doesn’t see me do or share what I, you know, what, what it is that I’m doing. And I’m just trying to be myself. And I noticed that when we first met that those little things were communicated to you. And, and you mentioned about, uh, not treating anyone any different than you would like to be treated yourself, I guess is what I’m, what I’m thinking in an ideal world. Um, if we have a question though, if I’m not sure what to say, if I’m not sure how to, how to handle an issue or how to make my point or communicate something with you, would you prefer that I ask you privately first communicate openly or what’s the best way to knock down those barriers and to, to, to make it a more, um, open experience between people. What can we do?

Haben: A couple of things. I want to go back to something you said a little earlier. So there’s this idea that people with disabilities want to be treated the same or do not want to be treated differently. We are all different. And there may be people who all want to be greeted with a wave or people who all want to be greeted with a hug. But then there are other people who don’t like physical contact and don’t like hugs and don’t feel safe or other people who don’t see waves or someone who doesn’t hear someone calling them, calling out high in a room. So instead of treating everyone the same adjust in conversation so that you can connect with that person. So when we were meeting several years ago in Louisiana, you switched from voicing to typing so I can access your words. It’s easier for me to understand what someone’s saying. If they’re typing their words rather than voicing them, my hearing is terrible. So if you really want to be understood, you’ll adapt, adjust, do something different rather than treating me the way you would treat most hearing people. So we do want to treat people differently. Um, my preferred way of talking about this is equal opportunities. So everyone should have the opportunity to communicate how they do it will differ, but everyone should have equal opportunity to access information, even if they’re doing it in different ways. So that was law. You asked me a question before that, but what’s your question?

Mitch: It was a terrible compound question Haben, and you answered it better than I ever could. And if it had more to do with making sure we’re, we’re all treating each other equally and acknowledging our unique differences. And while you were sharing your thoughts, I just want you to know a funny story. John Koff, uh, just shared, uh, clapping hands across our screen. And he is a friend of my daughter. He went to high school with my daughter. Hey John. And when he arrived at our home for the first time Haben, he let my daughter know that he wanted a big hug from me when he came in the front door. And that’s what he got. Okay. He had unique, special need as far as he was a guy that needed to be hugged. And so that’s what Mr. Jackson did. I gave John a big hug when he came through the front door. I recognized that that’s what John needed and it’s good to see him circle back again, after all these years and join us on today’s show. So I think that’s just kind of fine. It’s just acknowledging that everybody is different, but we need to treat it, treat everybody equal.

Haben: Me personally, I appreciate hugs. I practice a philosophy called protectable. If you can communicate information through touch, that’s, that’s another way for a blind person to access that information. So if you want to show someone there’s a cup of water on the table, you could verbally say, there’s a cup of water on the table. You can visually point there’s a cup of water on the table. Or you could put your hand under the person’s hand and move their hand to the cup, to signal there’s a cup at the table. So it’s about centering touch in the communication information. But I don’t say everyone should do this because there are some people for whom touch is not comfortable. Maybe it’s because of a disability, maybe it’s because of culture. And just as I ask people to accommodate me, I also want to be able to accommodate people with needs different from me. And culture is different from me.

Mitch: That makes perfect sense. And that’s why I wanted to have you on tonight Haben. We’re getting a lot of questions and what I would like to do if it’s okay with you is I’d like to dive into some of these specific questions because I know you’ve got answers, but before we do, just in case, we run out of time and we still have another 25 minutes or so. And I want to invite everyone to please share this out and please ask your questions on monitoring them from all the platforms. Haben, what advice do you have for young men and women who are starting middle school or high school, maybe college who have some kind of disability in today’s COVID-19 world. What advice do you have for them? Right now?

Haben: When I was in the middle school, it was incredibly difficult because the goal at that time was to be cool and to be normal. And for any kid disabled or non-disabled, that’s incredibly frustrating and exhausting to constantly strive to be cool rather than striving to yourself. My advice for middle schoolers in high school and high schoolers is celebrate who you are, be honest about your abilities and challenges and strive to develop all the tools available to you, whether that’s disability related tools like learning braille, learning all about wheelchairs, or whether it’s, um, school related tools like building up your math skills, building up your writing skills. We should use this time to develop our skills as much as possible because we never know which one will end up being the most useful to us.

Mitch: So true, because right now there are a lot of lawyers in my community that had never used zoom before COVID-19 hit. And now they and others are appreciating how important the cloud based platforms are to continue communicating and building community. Speaking of community Haben, a friend of mine out of Texas, Larry Weinstein asked, and I just put his question up on the screen- Is there a way to have our websites be accessible for blind and deaf people?

Haben: Absolutely. So the web content accessibility guidelines have been around for a while and there is set at technical standards. They’re broad enough, so that there’s plenty of room for innovation so that you could continue coming up with new ways to present information on your websites and apps, the set of principles. Uh, they’re very technical. So they’re, they’re really meant for the, uh, for the web developers and app developers, web content, accessibility guidelines for websites and I’m droid ILS accessibility guidelines for apps. So encourage your tech web development app development teams to use these accessibility guidelines. And then once you follow those guidelines, have the services tested by disabled people. There are companies claiming to be accessibility services that unfortunately don’t actually make your website accessible. So make sure before you invest in an accessibility service that there’s actually testing by disabled people.

Mitch: How can we reach out to get disabled people or, or an organization that connect us with disabled people to visit our websites, to offer some thoughts and opinions, suggestions, and ideas. Are there any groups or organizations that come to mind that we can reach out to?

Haben: Yes. So there are accessibility organizations with disabled people there because they’re disabled accessibility, engineers, programmers, company owners. So some accessibility organizations that can help make your websites enough accessible. (Mitch included the full list at the end of the transcript).

Mitch: I would be more than happy to share your list. I know in the chapter you shared in my book, you’ve provided a couple of websites. I’m not sure if that’s still current information, but Haben, anything you share with me, I want our community to know I’ll be more than happy to share with everyone else. By the way, I’m over on Twitter right now. Just looking at some of the comments. I just want to share them with you, um, quote, she is very inspirational, quote, such a force in true inspiration. Haben you are getting a lot of love on Twitter right now. So that leads me to my next question. I think it’s from Lisa over on Periscope, if I’m not mistaken. And that is what is your favorite social media platform and why?

Haben: So I use social media to help share my message with other people. I lot of sighted people really value images that as in videos. So even though photos don’t directly benefit me, I strongly appreciate how they help other people process the message. So I use Instagram a lot and sharing photos there and videos to help teach people about disability, access and inclusion. Also on Twitter, I use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Mitch: Spoken like a true Harvard grad because I didn’t get any inclination as to which one of those were your favorite. So if have you, I don’t know if you noticed, but Instagram rolled out a new service today called Instagram Reels, which is kind of like TikTok, but it’s on Instagram. Have you heard about that?

Haben: I am disappointed with Instagram’s lack of captioning support and that limits deaf people’s access to two videos on Instagram. There are third party apps that try to help with captioning. You could also try to get around some of this by burning in captions, into your videos. That’s, that’s frustrating and a lot of work for the creators and also frustrating for the deaf people trying to access videos on Instagram. So that’s, that’s a whole other issue, which is an issue that we need to fix.

Mitch: I haven’t thought about it that way before, but what you’re talking about and correct me if I’m wrong is, is a program so that while we’re creating video, it’s automatically taking, what’s being spoken and creating captions, possibly even a transcript to, to include everybody in the communication process.

Haben: Correct. Everyone should include captions in their videos and makes it easier for deaf individuals to access the videos and also benefits hearing individuals in general hearing and deaf people all have better access to videos when they’re captions and there’s studies that show that videos with captions reach a larger audience. There are many, many different audio issues that make it hard to always hear what’s going on in the video. Sometimes the audio is not working so captions give people more access to information. Then there’s also the benefit of having a transcript at the end. When we’re done with this show tonight, and it’s available in a recorded version, it sounds to me as though you would like for best practice would be, for me to include a written transcript would be to include a resource with captions. And what else am I missing? What else should I be doing with the recorded version of tonight’s interview?

Haben: Wherever you post the video included links up in linked to the transcript, or if you’re posting the video on a web page, put the transcript below the web, uh, below the below the video and more people will find that web page because there’ll be more text search engine optimization. So more keyword searches will bring people to your page. So captions, transcripts, and then the image descriptions you’ve been providing throughout this presentation increases accessibility. And that’s something everyone should be doing for your videos.

Mitch: Haben, once again, uh, just fielding a couple of questions. I don’t want to, I don’t want to throw you off base, like maybe coming up across upon a rattlesnake on your run, but, uh, we have a lot of lawyers here. We have a lot of law school students in a first, in a couple of first year law school, student law school graduates joining us. The question is I should get right to the point. The question is what was the biggest unexpected challenge that you had at Harvard? Was it harder than you thought it would be? Was it more difficult than you thought it would be? Was it tough learning the law? What, maybe something that we don’t know that you experienced at Harvard law school students, young lawyers would probably appreciate.

Haben: So law school is extremely different. It’s extremely difficult for everyone. I think in some ways it was easier than I expected. A big part of law school is reading and reading is something I absolutely love. It’s central to how I access information in the world. Even conversations like conversation right now, I’m doing that through reading. So a profession that depends heavily on reading and writing was a perfect match for me. The biggest barriers in law school were people assuming I couldn’t do a job. I remember going to a networking event where there were potential employers and they were meeting us, getting to know us for potentials summer associate opportunities. And I met people there who were extremely dismissive and disrespectful and would not treat me as a human being. Instead, they were talking to my interpreter rather than talking to me. And when asked to engage directly with me, they said, Oh no, that’s okay. She’s inspiring. Tell her she’s inspiring. That’s very rude and disrespectful. If you feel inspired, let that emotion actually lead to action. Don’t just sit with the emotion, allow it to drive change, pick one thing you can do right now to make your community more inclusive, whether that’s committing to adding captions to your videos or something else like increasing hiring of disabled people.

Mitch: Absolutely. That’s one reason Haben and I wanted to have you on the show tonight is to continue this evolution of inclusion, to continue this evolution of, of equality and recognizing the positive differences that we all have as human beings. And we’ve talked about that the last time we did a podcast together, I know you love being on stage. I know, and I’ve watched you, you’re gifted sharing your story and, and helping all of us from the big stage in front of a large audience. All of that has changed. What’s going on with Haben Girma over the next six to 12 months, writing another book, trying to get back on the stage, or are you pivoting and going a different direction with your business, your profession and your career?

Haben: Well, another way to connect with people is through writing. And I continuing to write. I I actually just published my first piece in the New York times last month for the 30th anniversary of the ADA. So that was very exciting. And I’m going to continue publishing more pieces about disability and inclusion.

Mitch: When you write these articles and these pieces, are you into individually submitting them to the publications in the editors or are they reaching out to you? And the reason I’m asking that question is we do have a lot of young writers and authors watching the show tonight and who will be watching the recorded show. And I want to give them a little insight from someone that’s been there and done that. How can they, how can they get heard in these professions? How can they get their stuff out there?

Haben: With the New York times, there was a writer there who knew my work and urge them to investigate my work. And they reviewed my writing. My past published works and reached out to me to do a piece. So part of that was having relationships with other writers in your field and supporting each other, promoting each other’s work, I’m connected to other disabled writers. And we try to support each other because disability is rarely covered. And if it is, it’s often in a very negative, harmful way. So we want to lift up the writers who are doing it right.

Mitch: I love that. I’d love that. So Haben, I want to thank you for being on the show tonight. I want to thank you for your friendship. I want to thank you for always being there when I have a question or a request from you. And I want to, in the last couple of minutes, I want to give you the mic. I want you to share with us. If there’s something we haven’t talked about, if there’s something that’s on your mind right now, whether it’s re relating to COVID-19 and disability, whether it’s regarding ADA laws, rules, regulations that are coming up, um, what can we do? What should we know about moving forward, uh, to help make this world a better, more inclusive, equal rights environment?

Haben: Something we’ve touched upon, and I want to stress again, due to the pandemic, a lot of things have moved online and that shift has increased preexisting barriers. So many images online don’t have image descriptions and alternative text, and that locks out disabled people from critical health information or job applications or educational tools. So encourage people who are creating content or running organizations or advising organizations to invest in accessibility, ADA litigation is expensive and time consuming. It’s much easier to choose inclusion rather than dealing with litigation.

Mitch: Agree 100%. Thank you. On behalf of everyone watching this evening, both live and recorded, I encourage everyone to always choose inclusion and do our best to, to make this walk our talk and make this world a better place. Haben Girma thank you very much for being my guest this evening. Thank you everyone for watching. If anyone would like to get in touch with Haben, I have put up her website. It is And I’m displaying that below the two of us on the live video. And I encourage everyone to reach out to Haben with follow-up questions and follow up needs. And, and, uh, if you guys would like that list of resources that Haben mentioned earlier during the interview, reach out to me. And when I get it from Haben, I’ll post it on the website, along with the transcript and along with a description of all photos and videos that accompany this interview. Haben, thank you very much. Stay safe, stay sound. And you know, I’m always here for you.

Haben: Thank you, Mitch. Have a good evening, everyone.

Mitch: We’ll see you next week. Take care and make each day your masterpiece. Goodnight. You guys. Thank you, Haben.



Resources Haben sent over after the live show. Please take a look, put to good use, and share with your community. To help with inclusion:





Click here to go to the video and podcast versions of the interview.

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