How We’re Silenced—and the Power of Judy Heumann

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 Judith Heumann, left and Kristen Joiner. (Rick Guidotti)

Judy Heumann isn’t nice.

Let me be clear.

Judy Heumann, one of the most transformative disability rights leaders of our time, is very friendly. Just take a walk around her Washington, DC, block. You’ll see that she’s on a first-name basis with everyone, from the doorman to the bus driver.

But she is not nice.

For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of waking up and imagining myself into Judy Heumann’s shoes. I co-authored her story, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, and as a nondisabled person, I’ve learned—and am still learning—an enormous amount about life with a disability.

Equally important—despite having spent my entire career leading NGOs and working for social change—I’ve also learned an enormous amount from Judy about…

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