Judy Heumann, disability rights activist, dies at age 75

Washington –

Judy Human, a well-known activist who helped pass legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities, has died at the age of 75.

News of her death in Washington DC on Saturday was posted on her website and social media accounts and confirmed by the American Association for Disabled People.

Heumann’s exact cause of death was not immediately known. She had been in the hospital for about a week, but she was going home, said Maria Towne, president and CEO of the association.

“Beyond all the policymaking and legal battles she has contributed to wins and battles, she is determined not to make disability a bad thing, but to make it OK in the world to be disabled and not be seen as disabled.” You have to be in a different, special place,” Towne said.

Heumann, who lost the ability to walk at the age of two after contracting polio, has been called the “mother of the disability rights movement” for her years of advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities through protests and legal action. says her website.

She lobbied for legislation that would eventually lead to the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Education of Individuals with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. She started in the Clinton administration in 1993 and served as Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Agency for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services until 2001.

Heumann was also involved in the establishment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified in May 2008.

She helped found the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, the Independent Living Movement, the World Institute for Disabilities, and has served on the boards of several affiliated organizations, including the American Association of the Disabled, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Humanitarian and Inclusion. I was. According to her website, she is a member of the American International Council on Disabilities.

Born in Philadelphia in 1947 and raised in New York City, Heumann was the co-author of her memoir, Being Heumann, and the young adult book, Rolling Warrior.

Her book recounts the struggles parents went through trying to secure their daughter’s place in school. “Children with disabilities were seen as difficult, both economically and socially,” she wrote.

She graduated from high school with a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. It was groundbreaking at the time and shows how much things have changed, Wall said.

“Today, children with disabilities are expected to have access to mainstream education, high school, college, and the opportunity to earn those degrees,” he said. Mr Towne said, acknowledging that inequalities persist. “But I think the fact that the key assumptions have changed is very important, and I think Judy played a key role.”

She also starred in the 2020 documentary film Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, featuring Camp Jened, a summer camp attended by Humans, sparking the disability rights movement. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.

In the 1970s, she won a lawsuit against the New York Board of Education, becoming the first teacher to be able to work while using a wheelchair after the board tried to argue that it was a fire hazard.

She also led the historic, non-violent occupation of the San Francisco Federal Building in 1977, setting the stage for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Ms Towne, who has cerebral palsy, said Human was the one who suggested she use an electric scooter to make getting around easier. She wasn’t ready to hear it at first because she’d been told her whole life that she needed to look less disabled, but eventually she decided to give it a try. Did.

“And it literally changed my life,” Towne said. “And that was part of what Judy did. She helped people accept that they were disabled and that It’s really helped me feel proud of my identity, and I’ve helped so many people understand their power as a person with a disability.”

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