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Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Activist

SKU: 9780807019290P
SKU: 9780807019290
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Being Heumann:  An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Activist


By:  Judith Heumann


One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human.


A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn’t built for all of us and of one woman’s activism—from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington—Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann’s lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society.

Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. 

From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people.

As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. 

Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Candid, intimate, and irreverent, Judy Heumann’s memoir about resistance to exclusion invites readers to imagine and make real a world in which we all belong.

Hardcover;  240 pages

ISBN:  978-0807019290

About the Authors

Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the Disability Rights Independent Living Movement. 

Her work with a wide range of activist organizations (including the Berkeley Center for Independent Living and the American Association of People with Disabilities), NGOs, and governments since the 1970s has contributed greatly to the development of human rights legislation and policy benefiting disabled people. 

She has advocated for disability rights at home and abroad, serving in the Clinton and Obama administrations and as the World Bank’s first adviser on disability and development. 

Connect with her on Twitter (@judithheumann) and Facebook (TheHeumannPerspective).

Kristen Joiner is an award-winning entrepreneur in the global nonprofit and social change sector. 

Her writing on empowerment, inclusion and human rights has been published in numerous outlets including the Stanford Social Innovation Review. 

Connect with her on Twitter (@kristenjoiner).

Praise For Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir Of A Disability Rights Activist…

“Thoughtful and illuminating, this inspiring story is a must-read for activists and civil rights supporters.”


—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Heumann’s personality shines throughout. Her voice is witty, persistent, and at times irreverent as she immerses readers in her story.”


—Library Journal

“It’s one of the ironies of American life that the one category into which almost all of us will fit at some time in our lives—people with disabilities—is often the last on the list of included groups in this country. . . . 


I met Judy Heumann almost four decades ago, and her writing, activist skills, and kindness helped me to see this simple truth. Her life story as an activist will enlighten readers everywhere.”


—Gloria Steinem


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