Mar 22, 2023

Blindness Community Commemorates Judy Heumann

Beacon Stories

Judy Heumann worked tirelessly for decades to improve the quality of life, access, and inclusion for all people with disabilities across the globe.

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The Foundation Fighting Blindness is saddened by the passing of Judy Heumann, "Mother of the Disability Rights Movement," at the age of 75. Judy worked tirelessly for decades to improve the quality of life, access, and inclusion for all people with disabilities across the globe.  

Judy Heumann was diagnosed with polio when she was just two years old, resulting in her use of a wheelchair for most of her life. With parents that fought for her rights throughout her childhood, Judy graduated from Long Island University and the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a master’s in public health.

After the New York Board of Education refused to give Judy a teaching license, she sued and became the first teacher in the state to use a wheelchair. Judy continued to fight for civil rights and was a leader in a historic occupation of a San Francisco federal building in 1977 that set the stage for and resulted in the passage of national disability rights legislation, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), securing entitlements for the 62 million Americans with disabilities.

The Foundation is extremely grateful for Judy’s legacy and lifelong dedication to the disability community.