It is with deep sadness that the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) acknowledges the passing of disability rights activist, leader, and advocate Judith (Judy) Heumann on March 4th, 2023.
Throughout her life, Judy was an unwavering champion for the rights of people with disabilities. Her advocacy work and leadership played a significant role in advancing disability rights globally. Judy was a trailblazer and an inspiration to countless individuals with disabilities, many of whom she mentored and supported throughout her career.
Judy's work was instrumental in bringing attention to the challenges faced by people with disabilities and advocating for their inclusion in all aspects of society. She was a tireless advocate for disability rights and worked to ensure that people with disabilities had access to education, employment, and other critical services.
Judy's accomplishments are numerous and include founding the World Institute on Disability, serving as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services under President Clinton, the Special Advisor on International Disability Rights under President Obama, and co-founder of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. Judy also served as the first Director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Disability Services and as the first Senior Adviser on Disability and Development at the World Bank.
She was also a key player in the historic California 504 Sit-In, a 25-day protest regarded as the longest occupancy of a federal government building in United States history. The 504 Sit-Ins were protests led by disabled activists in 10 different states across the U.S. that resulted in the first federal regulation guaranteeing the civil rights of people with disabilities.
Judy's legacy will live on through the countless lives she touched and the advancements she made for the disability rights movement. Her commitment to social justice and equality for all will continue to inspire and guide us in our ongoing work toward a more just and inclusive society.
The NARPA Board of Directors sends our heartfelt condolences to Judy's family, friends, and colleagues. We honor and celebrate Judy's life and the profound impact she had on disability rights and advocacy.
["She’s considered the mother of disability rights — and she’s a ‘badass,’" Washington Post Magazine, 5/25/21]