Judy Heumann

Heumann is founder and president of Disabled In Action (DIA) and was an important figure during the sit-ins that occurred in 1977.  One participant called her a “high priestess of strategy”.  She organized those in Washington D.C. to fly to San Francisco after realizing the movement needed to be reignited there.

During a congressional hearing that took place inside the federal building, Heumann choked back tears as she testified and said:

 “Whether there was a Section 504, whether there as a Public Law 94-142,   whether there was a Brown vs. Board of Education, the harassment, the lack of equities that has been provided for disabled individuals, that now is even being discussed by the administration, is so intolerable that I cannot put into words.  I can tell you that every time you raise the issue of separate but equal, the outrage of disabled individuals across the country is going to continue, it is going to be united.”

Heumann is personally affected by disability in her contraction of polio at a young age which confined her to a wheelchair.  She is an example of the shift that occurred in the twentieth century whereby the disabled community began fighting for their own rights rather then being spoken for by those who did not actually understand how deep their struggles were.

In June, 2010, Heumann joined the U.S. Department of State as their Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, under the Obama Administration.

Below is a video of Heumann discussing her involvement with the Disability Rights movement and her new Department of State position.

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