We are continuing to celebrate the inspiring life of disability rights activist and Berkeley School of Public Health alumna Judith (Judy) Heumann (M.P.H, ‘75). Judy was a founding member of The Center for Independent Living and helped launch the independent living movement nationally and globally. 

Judy Heumann was a lifelong advocate for the rights of disabled people. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of legislation, such as Section 504, the Individuals with Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Her impact on the Berkeley campus can be seen widely, from the braille signage on restroom walls to the curb cuts and ramp accessible structures along pathways. Campus resources like the Disabled Students’ Program and the newly opened Disability Cultural Community Center demonstrate the systemic changes Heumann inspired nearly 40 years after she graduated. Beyond the Berkeley campus, Heumann’s legacy can be experienced around the world in every building, classroom and institution that initially rejected people because of their disabilities. Heumann courageously fought for, and eventually won, access for them all.

In the  fall of 2022, Berkeley had the great honor to host Judy for a Jefferson Memorial Lecture on “The Status Quo Loves To Say No”: Disability Rights and the Battle Against Structures of Exclusion. The lecture recording is still available to stream on the Berkeley Graduate Lectures website.