Judith Heumann

Harmar celebrates Women’s History Month.

Throughout March, we’ll feature the strong, principled, courageous, and visionary women that have given of themselves to make a difference in the world.

Brought to prominence again recently due to the award-winning documentary “Crip Camp“, Judith Heumann has been committed to the advocacy of – and fighting for – disabled rights for decades.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947, Heumann contracted polio in 1949 and as a result of the effects of the disease, has been wheelchair-bound ever since.

Judy Heumann shown smiling, sitting in her power wheelchair

Disability Rights Activist Judy Heumann

Growing up, her neighborhood was nearly impassable to her, as there were (and are still) steps in almost every possible walking path in Brooklyn. The curbs, stairs into homes, multi-level homes, walk-up apartments, etc. In the 1950’s, with no legal protections, Ms. Heumann was even refused admittance to her local elementary because she was deemed a fire hazard (because she couldn’t walk).

From a young age, Judy Heumann was willing to stand up to almost anyone to stand up for herself and her friends.

Ms. Heumann would attend Camp Jened throughout her life, eventually becoming a counselor. Camp Jened is the focus of the documentary feature, Crip Camp.

It was at Jened that she would forge relationships that would help her to go on to change the world. Activism, outreach, leadership, and ultimately legislation. In 1974, working as a legislative assistant, Ms. Heumann would help draft legislation that would become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, one of the precursors of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ms. Heumann stayed active in politics for much of her professional life, and in fact still lives in Washington D.C., today. Her tireless efforts to ensure that the disabled are given every opportunity for equity have made a more just world for all.

Harmar salutes Judy Heumann.

Ms. Heumann’s biography on wikipedia

Judy’s appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (via YouTube)

Judith Heumann presents her TED talk