Since she was born in 1947, Judy Heumann has defined what it is to be a disability rights advocate. She contracted polio at 18 months, and her mother fought for her to go to school. When she grew up, Heumann fought to be allowed to teach and won a ground-breaking lawsuit to do so. Then she fought for Section 504 regula­tions by taking part in the famous 1977 sit-in. She co-founded the World Institute on Disability, did a stint with the World Bank, served in two presidential administrations and, along with co-author Kristen Joiner, recently wrote a must-read memoir, Being Heumann, that we will publish an excerpt of in the near future. She’s also our inaugural interview for our new “Big Ideas In” column, where we ask leaders to share their Big Ideas for our community.

Expand the Movement, Fight For Everyone’s Equality

Judith HeumannNM: The ADA turns 30 this year. Did you think we’d be further along by now, and where do you think we’ll be when the ADA turns, say, 50?

JH: Quite frankly in the beginning I wasn’t thinking that far into the future. I didn’t think there would be this much advancement in this period of time because it felt like we were so far behind other movements in so many different ways. We were looking at t