In the inaugural episode of The InclusionHub Podcast, we took you on a journey through the early days of the internet, which many people hoped would revolutionize disability rights and make it easy for people to enjoy the benefits of operating inside this burgeoning virtual world.
Unfortunately, such dreams never truly materialized. Decades later, and more than 30 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—which expanded civil rights to people with disabilities and changed how physical spaces are designed—the disability rights community is still fighting for an inclusive web, utilizing every tool at their disposal.
In this episode, we return to where it all began: the birth of the diverse, passionate, vibrant, and expansive disability rights movement. Through the eyes of one of the most famous disability and civil rights leaders in the world, you’ll learn how such basic liberties were never guaranteed, and that their expansion to those with disabilities was only achieved after people took the fight to the streets and halls of power.
At five years old, Judith Heumann was labeled a fire hazard due to her wheelchair use and denied attendance at her neighborhood school. At nine, she and other disabled students were segregated from non-disabled classmates and relegated to a school basement. At 22, she was denied a teaching job in the New York City Public School System simply because she was disabled.
Episode 2: 'Judith Heumann & the Rise of a Movement'
Now 74 years old, Heumann takes us through her experiences as someone living with a disability before the era of the ADA. The discrimination and cruelty would seem unimaginable now, but there was a time when Heumann and others like her were denied even such fundamental services as schooling.
As our host, Sam Proulx, Accessibility Evangelist at Fable—a leading accessibility testing platform powered by people with disabilities—who is blind, explains in Episode 2:
“Heumann has never stopped fighting back, and in my personal opinion, no introduction, nor barrage of superlatives nor litany of praises will ever do her justice for what she has done for the disability community, of which I am a proud member.”
Heumann spearheaded many of the disability rights movement’s most quintessential actions—leading and joining hundreds of other disabled folks blocking traffic in Manhattan and occupying federal Health, Education, Welfare (HEW) offices nationwide during the 504 Sit-Ins to force the passage of critical regulations regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Their 1977 occupation of San Francisco’s federal offices stands as the longest such takeover of a government building in U.S. history!
Considering her importance to the ongoing disability rights movement, and human rights causes worldwide, we felt it appropriate to give Heumann her own episode in this special podcast series.
As Proulx shares in this extraordinary episode:
“Throughout her many, many, many initiatives spanning decades of activism, she has remained absolutely unwavering in her conviction, passion, and quest for justice—in America and throughout the globe. Her must-listen-to podcast and YouTube channel ‘The Heumann Perspective’—through which she quite literally continues to give voice to the otherwise voiceless—is further testament to her unending devotion to equality and beauty and love for the disability community.”
Listen to The InclusionHub Podcast
You can listen to the podcast at the bottom of this post. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast on your favorite app so you never miss a new episode! Access the episode transcript here.
The InclusionHub Podcast is sponsored by our Founding Partners: Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management software provider; Morey Creative Studios (MCS), a HubSpot Diamond Partner Agency; Fable, a leading accessibility testing platform; and Be My Eyes, a free app connecting blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers.
More About Judith
- The Heumann Perspective Podcast
- Judith on YouTube
- Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist
- Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution
- Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
- Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram