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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

This Women’s History month should hold a special remembrance for a woman who fought for people’s rights and gave a voice to the unheard. March 4th, Judith Ellen Heumann passed away. The tragedy should encourage others to celebrate the heroic Judy’s life and all of her accomplishments.

Judith Huemann was an American disability activist, who dedicated her life to advocate for people with disabilities. In 1949, she contracted polio and became a full-time wheelchair user. At age five, Judy was denied the right to attend school, as they considered her wheelchair a fire hazard. Judy went on to help change a nation’s views on disabilities, bringing the immense inequality to the forefront of discussion. Due to her lifelong activism, Judith Heumann is regarded as “the mother” of disability rights movements.

She pushed for a new generation of equality. Judy Heumann was a supporter of the Independent Living Movement. This was centered around the beliefs that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights, options, and control over their own lives, just like people without disabilities. Also banning any regulations that discriminate against people with disabilities in federally funded programs.

Huemann was directly responsible for national level legislation for programs in special education, independent living and vocational rehabilitation. The implementation of this legislation served more than eight million people both children and adults with disabilities.

Huemann was a part of the 504 Sit-in, the disability rights protest that pushed for the distribution of the long-delayed regulations regarding section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires that the needs of the students be met adequately. The importance of this act is to make sure education is equal for students and makes the playing field equivalent.

Later, Judith Heumann served in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations. While becoming a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation, a private foundation with the goal of advancing human welfare.

Her story was featured in the 2020 award winning documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. Additionally, her memoir Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist was published with coauthor Kristen Joiner. Before her passing Judy was the host and producer of The Heumann Perspective, a podcast which highlighted changemakers in the disability community.

Judith Ellen Heumann shaped a nation with her advocacy for disability rights. She continuously fought for people’s rights and equality. This Women’s History month should voice her amazing story and push people to follow in her steps. Rest in Power Judy.

Amy Cotton

Scranton '24

Hi I'm Amy, a junior early childhood education major. I find joy in volunteering and helping others achieve their goals!