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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Mourns the Passing of Judy Heumann

The National Council on Independent Living is heartbroken to learn of the passing of NCIL co-founder Judy Heumann. We have lost a pioneer in the disability community and the Independent Living Movement, and the world will not be the same without our beloved friend and colleague.

Judy was a founding member of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, the first CIL in the United States. Along with Ed Roberts and so many others, she helped launch the Independent Living Movement.

Judy was involved in too many advocacy efforts to count. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous groundbreaking pieces of legislation including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her work to implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act cemented her place in history and set an example that has inspired millions of disabled people worldwide. More recently, she worked on international disability issues, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Judy was featured in the 2020 Oscar Nominated Documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, which can be watched on Netflix and YouTube.

“Judy had a long-standing history with NCIL and continued to be an active supporter. As the new executive director of NCIL, I was honored and blown away that Judy called me a few days ago to say congratulations and offered to work with me to rebuild NCIL because it meant that much to her. We planned to meet in DC to organize our thoughts.

Judy wanted to invite a few other pioneers involved with NCIL in the beginning, and to work with new disability leaders and get them more involved. This communicated that Judy would never have stopped leading and working on behalf of others — she did to the end.

I am encouraged and motivated by this. I will never to stop either!

Thank you, Judy Heumann, for a life well lived. You changed my life and the lives of millions of others! We will finish the race now.”

– Theo Braddy, NCIL Executive Director

Our thoughts are with Judy’s husband Jorge and their family. The impact of Judy’s life and legacy will live on for generations.

See details on memorial services.

  • Image 1: A headshot of Judy Heumann, smiling warmly and looking up toward the camera. She is wearing a bright red shirt and bright red glasses and lipstick.
  • Image 2: A black and white photo of a young Judy Heumann as she speaks into a microphone. She is wearing a winter coat with a “Sign 504” sticker.
  • Image 3: Judy and her dear friend Marca Bristo put their heads together and smile brightly for a photo during NCIL’s 2012 Annual Conference. They are both wearing colorful outfits and glasses. Marca is wearing a sticker that says “Ratify CRPD – YES!”
  • Image 4: Kelly Buckland and Judy Heumann pose at the 2013 Inaugural Ball. They are wearing formal attire and are surrounded by other partygoers.
  • Image 5: Judy Heumann, Marca Bristo, Justin Dart, and many others lead the 1993 NCIL March to the Capitol. A large banner says “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere – Martin Luther King, Jr.”
  • Image 6: Image: Judy Heumann, Kelly Buckland, and many others lead the 2018 NCIL March to the Capitol. They are wearing ponchos and leading chants while marching in the pouring rain. Anna L-T is pushing Justin Dart’s wheelchair next to them.