We join the international community in honoring the life and legacy of Judith “Judy” Heumann. Judy was a trailblazer and extraordinary leader during her decades of human rights advocacy and public service. She was frequently called the “mother of the disability rights movement” and was a mentor to countless young leaders and activists around the world.
To say Judy was instrumental in the disability rights movement is an understatement. She embodied the collective fight for the rights of all people with disabilities throughout a multitude of roles and platforms — legal, political, and social. Legislation — such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would not exist without Judy’s leadership alongside her pioneering fellow advocates.
Her strength and wit catalyzed people’s understanding of disability rights as human rights, and she mobilized the world to advance accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities. During her tenure at the Department as the first Special Advisor on International Disability Rights from 2010-2017, Judy traveled the world to meet with persons with disabilities, civil society organizations, and governments to share how everyone can use their voice to champion and advocate for disability rights.
For Judy, being recognized wasn’t about personal fame, it was about shining a light on the community of more than 1 billion people with disabilities around the world. She forever changed the landscape of how persons with disabilities are seen, heard, and valued. And she’d want us to remember that there is still so much to do.
Our deepest condolences to her family, and all who mourn her passing. Her legacy lives on, and we will carry forward her important work.
Official news published at https://www.state.gov/on-the-passing-of-judith-heumann/