The theme of this year’s Women’s History Month, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” highlights the key role of caregivers and other frontline workers during the pandemic. It also recognizes how women throughout history have given both hope and healing, as explained by the National Women’s History Alliance. Following are two notable examples of women who are visually impaired:
Disability rights advocate Haben Girma works to “change attitudes about disability around the world, including the development of accessible digital services.” The first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School, Girma has noted that part of the reason she became a lawyer was to increase access for individuals with disabilities to books and other digital materials. Named a “White House Champion of Change” by President Obama, Girma has received the “Helen Keller Achievement Award,” and a place on the Forbes “30 under 30” list, to name a few of her honors. She also published a book about her experiences, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Girma began her career working with Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) in Berkeley, California and currently provides consulting and public speaking presentations on accessibility, diversity, and leadership, reaching major corporations across the nation. For more information, read the Wikipedia piece on Haben Girma or visit the website on her work: About Haben.
Sabriye Tenberken, co-founder of the international organization Braille Without Borders, lost her sight due to retinal disease, becoming totally blind by age 12. While at Bonn University in Germany, Tenberken studied Mongolian, modern Chinese, and modern and classical Tibetan, along with Sociology and Philosophy. She devised her own methods of studying, since “no blind student had ever before ventured to enroll in these kinds of studies.” Tenberken later expanded on her work to benefit others, developing Tibetan Braille, which became the official reading and writing system in Tibet for people who are blind. She also founded the Centre for the Blind in that nation and, in 2002, established Braille Without Borders, an organization that seeks to provide practical skills and teach braille to people in developing countries who are blind. To learn more about Tenberken’s work, check out the Wikipedia articles on Sabriye Tenberken and Braille Without Borders.