Spotlight on disability rights advocate Judy Heumann

Raised in New York City by Jewish immigrant parents, Judy Heumann and her family were no strangers to discrimination. After contracting polio as a child, Heumann used a wheelchair for the rest of her life. As a result, she faced extreme prejudice. Barred from school, movie theaters, bathrooms, and more while in high school and college, Heumann realized the extent of the discrimination against people with disabilities.

Heumann became an activist for change regarding the rights of people with disabilities in America. She has dedicated her life to advocating for legislation that promotes the rights of people with disabilities. Heumann worked with Ed Roberts, who we have written about previously, to co-found the Center for Independent Living at the University of California, Berkeley. She also co-founded the World Institute on Disability, and assisted with the passing of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

She states that she is encouraged by progress made, yet still very frustrated by the discrimination that remains towards people with disabilities. Heumann is currently the Special Advisor for International Rights to the U.S. State Department. According to a friend, “Judy has changed the way things work. And now, by mentoring and empowering young people, she’s paving the way for a new generation to be involved politically.”

Judy Heumann was honored with the Medtronic Courage Award in 2010. Medtronic produced the video below.

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of DisAbility Rights Galaxy.

Judy Heumann: 2010 Medtronics Courage Award Recipient from on Vimeo.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.