#AdvocacyMatters: More Than an Icon

March 24, 2023 / #AdvocacyMatters

Every milestone along the path towards true equity – every victory, no matter how big or small – only happened because individuals believed in the cause so much that success was the only ultimate option. Only through the sacrifice and investment of many have these victories been possible. While organizations have driven the charge along this path, it’s been the energy of individuals affecting real change.

Earlier this month the disability rights movement lost an icon of its cause, as advocate Judy Heumann passed away at age 75. Judy will always be remembered for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act that she fought so hard to see through, but her legacy is so much more. Judy constantly and consistently fought back against the ableism and discrimination that kept so many disabled Americans in the shadows.

“We need to be proud of who we are, that part of who we are, not the totality of who we are, is that we have one or more different types of disabilities. I think that’s really a significant outcome of the ADA that we ourselves see ourselves as being a part of society,” she told CSPAN last year.

Her advocacy – starting at a young age and never slowing – elevated not just herself but those around her, leaving their perspectives and experiences difficult to ignore.

“Until institutions were forced to accommodate us, we would remain locked out and invisible,” she added “…and as long as we were locked out and invisible, no one would see our true force and would dismiss us.”

Through the World Institute on Disability that she cofounded, through posts dealing with education and disability in the federal government, and advisory roles and fellowships within other nonprofit organizations, she inspired, guided, and informed a movement of equity and inclusion that touched millions. While she is no longer with us, her spirit, voice, and legacy will continue to shape the disability rights movement for generations.

You can learn more about Judy by visiting www.judithheumann.com


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