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Guest blog post: ‘Connections, Comforts & Judy Heumann’ by Meriah Nichols

Another great blog post by one of our media partners Meriah Nichols, creator of A Little Moxie. In this recent post published on August 2, 2014, Meriah shares her thoughts about the disability rights movement and Judy Heumann.

A black-and-white photo of three people sitting at a table smiling and looking at one another. On the left is a man in a wheelchair with a ventilator. In the middle is a woman in a wheelchair and on the right is another woman seated in a chair.
L-R: Ed Roberts, Judy Heumann and Joan Leon from the World Institute on Disability


Judy Heumann

…is an attractive woman, perhaps a smidgen above middle-aged. An aura of authority and intelligence is around her, her voice is crisp, clear, firm. She is a strong woman and it shows.

She is also one of the early leaders of the disability rights movement. She affected change on a level that grew to be global – this solitary woman who uses a wheelchair, this teacher who wouldn’t quit. She drove “access” clear on through until it has become a common word.

Judy Heumann is an amazing woman, a remarkable woman, a mighty woman.

And when I went to hear her speak some years ago at UC Berkeley, I could not stop crying.

I just couldn’t.

I was trying, God knows I was. I was pinching my legs, trying so hard to keep it under wraps because I wanted to make a good impression, I wanted to be awesome and… I couldn’t stop crying.

This is why:

Because Judy Heumann gets this struggle, the whole entire struggle of disability and the disability rights movement on the deepest level that is possible. She gets it. She knows what discrimination is like, what it feels like, how it weasels its way through to your marrow and explodes like a burning cancer. She knows how it is to have people say, “no”, say you are a mistake, say you shouldn’t have been born, she knows how it feels to be outside looking in, uninvited or to have access denied on a regular basis as it’s just not convenient or because someone forgot  – yet  again. She knows these things, by sheer dint of her experience and her contact with so many others with disabilities, through her decades of advocacy and fighting for equal rights.

Surrounded in the room as I was with others who have a connection, with others who know what this is about, this life with disability, this double edged sword of unique experience and unique discrimination, unique life with unique oppression – I couldn’t keep it together. The relief in being with others who know, who get it, was simply overwhelming.

For the complete blog post:

Meriah’s A Little Moxie blog:



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