Why Haben Girma, A Deaf-Blind Lawyer and Activist Is Suing Scribd.

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Haben Girma
(image credit: Haben Girma)


Haben Girma is a 26 year-old, lawyer, activist, and advocate for disabled persons. At a young age she committed herself to being independent and to fighting for the rights of individuals with disabilities. At the age of 15,she traveled by herself to her father’s native country of Mali to help build schools for impoverished students. Years later Girma became the first deaf-blind student to attend and graduate Harvard Law School. Now at the age of 26, Haben Girma is a Skadden Fellowship Attorney with the nonprofit law firm Disability Rights Advocates where she continues to fight and advocate for people with disabilities.

Girma recently spoke with Business Insider about her decision to take on Scribd, a monthly subscription service that gives users access to 40 million titles and also allows users to publish their own books. Unfortunately, this service, which could be a major asset to people with disabilities such as Girma, is not compatible with the software often used by blind or deaf-blind users.

According to Business Insider,

The complaint alleges that Scribd discriminates against blind people by denying them full and equal access to its services in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This case is one everyone who reads can relate to, Girma said. “I think it sounds like a great service, and I think just like everyone else in the world, when you hear about a great service and then you realize you can’t use it you’re disappointed and frustrated. And it’s not fair,” Girma told Business Insider in a phone interview this week with the help of an interpreter. “Everyone wants to read, which is one of the reasons I really like this case — everyone can relate to the need to read for fun, for work, for school.”

Haben Girma also points out that,

“Scribd could potentially win thousands and thousands of new subscribers if they took the time to make their service accessible, and it could be very easy,”

Read the entire complaint here. Business Insider reached out to Scribd for a comment and a representative stated that they are currently “reviewing the allegations”. Hopefully this situation will be resolved in a way that leads to more accessibility for potential users of Scribd.


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