We recently celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and we now take many provisions of this law for granted. Even something as simple as a wheelchair ramp was not always available and no one knows this better than Judith Heumann.
After coming down with polio and getting a wheelchair at age 2, she wasn’t allowed to start kindergarten because teachers thought she was a fire hazard. She did eventually go to school, and even got a Master’s degree in public health. She’s been using her platform since 1970 to raise awareness on disability issues and create tangible impact.
Of her countless political and cultural achievements since then, some highlights include co-founding the World Institute on Disablity (WID) in 1983, her 2016 TED Talk, and serving as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights when President Obama was in office. She also wrote Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, and Road Map for Inclusion: Changing the Face of Disability in Media.
Judith is an inspiring reminder that change takes time and dedication, and she’s a tangible example of the progress that America has made toward inclusion and representation for everyone.
Cover photo by Charles Deluvio from Unsplash