Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2021, 9:21 am
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Washington and Lee University will receive international disability rights activist Judy Heumann for a fireplace chat on March 9th at 6:00 p.m.
Dani Roberts, Assistant Director of Inclusion and Engagement, and Catherine Xia ’23 will jointly moderate the discussion.
The event can be viewed online by the public free of charge. However, prior registration is required and can be accessed at https://go.wlu.edu/heumann.
During the discussion, Heumann will share her experiences with advocating disability rights and discuss the future of the movement. A question-and-answer session follows the conversation.
“Heumann’s work as an activist was instrumental in the disability rights movement,” said Roberts. “Without your input and that of your colleagues and fellow activists, we may not have the laws and regulations today that protect and support people with disabilities.”
For Xia, this conversation is an important one for the entire campus community. On campus, Xia is a liaison officer for WLUnite, a club that focuses on educating, promoting and raising awareness about disabilities and accessibility at W&L. She first had the idea that Roberts should invite Heumann. Xia believes the campus would benefit from more programs addressing accessibility, disability awareness, and disabled rights.
“I am a disabled student myself, so I always think about disability and accessibility issues,” said Xia. “As I became more concerned with life on campus, I found that disabled students, and disabilities in general, kept being left out when people talked about diversity and inclusion. When Dani asked Roberts what kind of programming I would like to see in the future, I felt it was the perfect time to voice my concerns and see how W&L discussions about disability and accessibility can begin. “
According to Lauren Kozak, Title IX coordinator and director of Disability Resources at W&L, Heumann’s visit is a step in the right direction for the campus.
“I think this event is great and shows how the Office for Inclusion and Engagement (OIE) is working to create a more accessible and inclusive campus environment for all students, including students with disabilities,” said Kozak.
Heumann is a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. In 1949 she contracted polio and began using a wheelchair for mobility. At the age of five, she was denied the right to attend school because she was classified as a “fire hazard”. While her parents played an important role in the fight for their rights as a child, Heumann soon realized that she had to represent interests in cooperation with other disabled people due to constant discrimination.
Today Heumann is internationally recognized as a leader in the disability rights community. She was instrumental in developing and implementing laws such as Section 504 that protect students with disabilities. the law on persons with education; the Disabled Americans Act; the Rehabilitation Act; and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She graduated from Long Island University and earned a Master of Science degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley.
Her memoir, “To Be Heumann: An Unrepentant Memory of a Disability Activist,” was published by Beacon Press and recorded by Ali Stroker, the first wheelchair actor on Broadway. Heumann can also be seen in the award-winning American documentary “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” from 2020.
“Judy Heumann is an amazing person and well known in the disabled community,” said Xia. “I look forward to starting a much needed discussion about disabilities, accessibility and inclusion that I believe is missing on the W&L campus. I hope that all participants will learn more about what it means to be disabled, how to ally with their disabled colleagues, and how many other problems are also seen as a disability problem. “
This event is sponsored in part by OIE, W&L Hillel, Student Activities, Law School Student Affairs, and WLUnite.
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