power-of-disability, Social Justice, Podcast

The Power of Disability Part 2 — with Judy Heumann

April 29, 2021
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“It's important to work collaboratively with people, to try to have big dreams, to recognize they may not happen overnight, and to be able to change.” — Judy Heumann

Lifelong activist and wheelchair user Judy Heumann joins Al Etmanski for this instalment of The Power of Disability. Judy is a powerful advocate in the disability movement both in the US and globally. She and Al talk about her long history of fighting for the rights of disabled people, a part of which is featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

Judy shares stories about significant organizing moments and camaraderie in liberation movements, speaking to the importance for the voices of disabled people to come forward. They also discuss Judy’s appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, creating a thriving disability culture, and the changing nature of allyship.

About Our Guest


Judy is a lifelong activist and leader in the disability rights movement in the United States and internationally. At eighteen months old, Judy was paralyzed from polio and has been a wheelchair user ever since. 

She is the first person who used a wheelchair to teach in New York City but not before she sued the NY City Board of Education.

In 1977 she led the longest sit-in of a federal building to date, lasting 28 days which led to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The event and its lasting impact is captured in the Netflix documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, which won the Sundance Audience award. It was also shortlisted for the best documentary at the recent (2021) Academy Awards.

She went on to serve as the deputy director at the Center for Independent Living in California for seven years. She Co-Founded the World Institute on Disability with Ed Roberts She has worked for the World Bank and the Ford Foundation. She was appointed first ever Special Advisor on Disability Rights for the U.S. State Department under President Barack Obama.

Time Magazine featured her on their cover as one of the 100 most influential women of the last century representing the year 1977. She is the author of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist.


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