Inspiring Inclusion in Innovation: LinkedIn Speaker Series with Haben Girma

December 26, 2017

#InSpeaker Haben Girma and her service dog shaking hands and greeting one of the many Speaker Series attendees.

If you could help to positively change the lives of nearly 20% of the people that lived on earth, wouldn’t you? While this sounds like a tall order, it’s an attainable one —so long as we choose to value and prioritize inclusion.

This is exactly the vision that Haben Girma, Harvard Law’s first deafblind graduate, shared with LinkedIn at our most recent Speaker Series. From finishing college to being featured on  Forbes 30 Under 30 list, Haben embodies the positive change she wants to see in this world, all while being an influential advocate for the disabilities community of nearly 1.3 billion people that makes up a fifth of the world’s population.

All too often when we hear “disability,” we tend to instinctively associate it with a barrier that separates ability from action. However, Haben explains that if we’re able to break down that barrier and shift this thinking to focus on disability as an opportunity to develop new solutions, drive innovation, and foster inclusion, everyone benefits, regardless of their abilities.

Separate is never equal."

Whether it’s as simple as adding subtitles to a video, or as complex as engineering a building that is accommodating to people of all levels of mobility, if we plan for accessibility from the start it will lead to better design, increased accessibility, and opportunity for all.

But, it’s not just companies and decision makers that have influence to help drive these changes in thinking. These are three ways that anyone can help to inspire change:

  1. We can all identify barriers to accessibility and help to remove them.

  2. Encourage your communities, companies, and teams to increase hiring of people with disabilities.

  3. Help educate and teach the value of inclusion - of all people - to anyone that you cross paths with.

As she closed her discussion, Haben urged us to never fear the unknown.

We shouldn’t fear the unknown, it can be exciting. Exploring leads to new discoveries. Embracing your inner pioneer can lead to many discoveries, and the unknown is only scary so long as you let it remain the unknown.”

Watch the full LinkedIn Speaker Series video below, or listen to the podcast.