Judy Heumann, a renowned disability rights activist, has passed away at the age of 75. Heumann, who contracted polio as a child and used a wheelchair for her entire life, dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of disabled people.
Born in Brooklyn in 1947, Heumann was refused entry to her local school due to her disability. Her mother fought for her right to attend, and Heumann went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Long Island University and a Master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Heumann’s activism began in the 1970s, when she fought for the right to attend a teacher training program in New York City. She was denied entry due to her disability, but her protests led to an eventual change in the city’s policy.
Heumann went on to work for the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, where she helped to write the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which guaranteed disabled children the right to a free public education.
Heumann also co-founded the World Institute on Disability and served as the director of the Department of Disability Services for the city of Berkeley.
She was a key figure in the disability rights movement, fighting for accessible buildings, transportation, and employment opportunities for disabled people. She was also a powerful advocate for the rights of disabled women and people of color.
Heumann’s legacy will be remembered by the many people she inspired and the many lives she improved through her activism. She will be greatly missed by the disability rights community and beyond.