Vacations are great, aren’t they? A break from your normal routine, a chance to spend quality time with your family, and maybe get a little distance so you can look at things with a fresh perspective. But, I find that passion doesn’t take a vacation. This is why when I found out that Haben Girma would be speaking about her new book in the very location where I would be on vacation, I just had to attend. My supportive husband agreed with the plan and after the event told me he wants to read the book too. I love that guy. We met Beth Foraker, KIT board member, and her daughter Caroline there and we were all moved, motivated, and delighted to see a packed bookstore.
Maybe the coolest part of the event was seeing the technology that Haben, a deaf-blind woman, developed so that she could communicate with hearing-sighted people in (just about) real-time. She’s got a Braille computer on her lap and a typist who transcribes what people say and also visual cues that transmit wirelessly to her computer. She reads the words in Braille and then responds using her voice. During the book signing portion, attendees typed to her using the keyboard. Haben said, “The disability is never the problem. The problem is the inaccessibility.” She implored her audience always to ask, “What work needs to be done? What solutions can we come up with?” I was so excited because this is the work our KIT team does every day, helping childcare providers, teachers, camp counselors, and others come up with solutions so that every child can realize their full potential.
If you haven’t read the book yet, I highly recommend it. Haben is wise beyond her years, warm, and funny (humor, she says, is a key to her advocacy work). When someone asked whether she would consider running for office in the future, she laughed and said that if it were the best way for her advocate, she would not be opposed to it. So, who knows, you may get to vote for her someday. #Haben2024
The future is inclusive.