The Office of Developmental Disabilities Ombuds was sad to hear about the passing of Judy Heumann on March 4th, 2023. Judy was fundamental to the disability rights movement and the passing legislation including Section 504, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which have been advancing the inclusion of disabled people in the US and around the world and fighting to end discrimination against all those with disabilities.

Judy’s activism and advocacy were extremely impactful and historic. Another quality about Judy that we would like to highlight is her mentorship and role in shaping future disabled advocates. After her passing we saw on social media advocates with disabilities sharing stories about meeting and being inspired by Judy. Sara Luterman put some of these stories together in her piece about Judy-

Below is a posting From Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center – SARTAC


Judy Heumann, a true, powerful advocate and leader for people with disabilities has passed away.

She was more than just an advocate and leader. She was a pioneer who changed the landscape for individuals with disabilities. She led the fight for getting the Americans with Disabilities Act into law to make discrimination toward people with disabilities illegal.


Having been a target of discrimination, Judy was fearless in the face of social injustices. She was not afraid to stand up for people with disabilities, including herself.

Judy’s leadership was a model of strength for many self-advocates, myself included.

One important focus Judy shared with us was about pride, which means feeling good about who we are as people with disabilities. Pride will help us speak up, tell our stories, and not be afraid to be open and honest about who we are. The challenges that we, as people with disabilities, face is NOT our disability.


A society that doesn’t accept us for who we are is our challenge. Being proud of who we are is a main source of strength to take on that challenge.

Ask yourself, what would Judy want for and from all of us? To belong in this world, we must continue to be committed to fight for true inclusion. That is what Judy Heumann would want us all to do as leaders.


Thank you Judy for the strength that you have given us.

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