blogs.edweek.org
Supreme Court Seeks Input on Special Education Service Animal Case
The case revolves around a Michigan student with cerebral palsy who was told she could not bring her service dog to school under the terms of her individualized education program.

[a family and a large white dog]

The Fry family urged the Supreme Court to take up their case to settle the conflict among the circuit appeals courts

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“Eritrean-American Haben Girma, who is the first deaf-blind graduate at Harvard Law School’s story is a true inspiration.

Girma’s extraordinary story highlights her courage and determination despite physical challenges, and she is living proof that disability is certainly no barrier to achieving academic excellence.

Girma is an attorney who ‘advocates for the civil rights of persons with disabilities. A celebrated speaker, she provided the introductory remarks for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] at the White House’.

…Girma appreciates the opportunities she has been offered and ‘the hard won power of the ADA.’” by Arthur Chatora, This is Africa

“Haben Girma is our new hero. The 27-year-old lawyer is the first deaf-blind alumna of Harvard Law School.

After graduating magna cum laude with an undergraduate degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2010, Girma went on to earn her Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Harvard in 2013.

…Haben, who was also on Harvard’s Ballroom Dance Team, is originally from the East African country of Eritrea. Her older brother was also born deaf-blind, and the pair was told their disabilities were ‘…a curse on the family.’

…The budding activist and civil rights attorney currently works for the Disability Rights Advocates law firm in Sacramento helping others fight for their rights under the ADA.

Haben said that her grandmother, who still lives in Eritrea, believes her success is ‘like magic.’ She closed her speech by saying, ‘…People with disabilities succeed not by magic, but from the opportunities afforded by America and the hard-won power of the ADA.’

President Obama then said, ‘Thank you Haben for making sure students with disabilities have access to a world class education just as you have.’ Zon D'Amour, HelloBeautiful/Global Grind

“By the time Girma was born in 1988, six years younger than her brother, her mother had made a refugee’s journey from Eritrea to the United States. And in California, a deaf-blind girl like Girma had a legal right to an education.

In public schools in Oakland, she was educated alongside other students, leaving her mainstream classes for an hour a day to learn Braille.

…In the winter of 1983, Girma’s mother, Saba Gebreyesus, left Eritrea. The war of independence with Ethiopia was going on. It was a two-week trek to Sudan, ‘walking at night to try to avoid the different military groups fighting in that area.’ At one point she slept in a tree surrounded by hungry hyenas.

A Catholic resettlement agency helped Gebreyesus move to the United States.

In the United States, disability civil rights laws provided opportunities to Girma. The IDEA law says every child with a disability is guaranteed an education, and the ADA bans discrimination based on disability.

…At the White House, Girma talked to the president one on one, telling him ‘that technology can bridge the gap for people with disabilities.’ The president typed on a silver, wireless keyboard, and Girma read the message on a digital Braille device (the technology that enabled us to conduct our phone interview with her). The back-and-forth was instantaneous….

…Today, her brother, Mussie Gebre, travels around California, teaching people with disabilities how to use technology — like the devices that help him and his sister.

‘To all of us here,’ Girma said to the crowd in the East Room at the White House, ‘we know that people with disabilities succeed not by magic but from the opportunities afforded by America and the hard-won power of the ADA.’” by Joseph Shapiro, NPR