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Spotlight: Judy Heumann-Disability Rights Activist

Last month not only did we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but we celebrated Disability Pride Month as well. Having lived with a disability my whole life, it has been only this past year that I’ve really come into my own with feeling open and proud of my disability. Since the history of the disability rights movement was never a requirement to be taught in schools, it came as no surprise to me that I knew little of how that movement came to be. Along the way in my discovering of disability culture, I met someone who I now proudly proclaim as my personal hero: Judy Heumann. She played an integral part in the foundation of the disability rights movement, noticing the grave inequalities between the way society treated folks with disabilities, and those without. Judy contracted polio when she was 18 months old, and developed paraplegia. Growing up in Brooklyn in a world that wasn’t designed for her success, she decided to use her voice and her passion for social justice to band together with like minded folks and begin a movement in thought. Along with colleagues, family and friends, allies, important figures in the community, and beyond, Judy participated in sit ins, demonstrations, and was a part of a delegation sent to Washington D.C. that was integral in the signing of the 504 Plan into law. She served within the administration for Bill Clinton as well as Barack Obama, and is still doing remarkable and great work to this day that benefits disabled folks all over the world. You can check her out in the recent documentary Crip Camp which is currently available to stream on YouTube. I hope you find Judy as incredible as I do!  

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