Loss of an Icon: Disability Legend Judy Heumann Passes Away 

  • Mar - 06 - 2023
  • Mary E Dolan

Loss of an Icon

Disability Legend Judy Heumann Passes Away 

Sadly, Judy Heumann, FDR Committee Advisory Board Member and Disability Rights Legend passed away on Saturday, March 4.  It was a true honor to have Judy as one of our earliest Advisory Board members and to have her endorse and participate in our work. 

Group gathered near FDR wheelchair statue wearing winter coats and hats. Several people are in wheelchairs. 

Judy Heumann, on right, greeting Anne Roosevelt, center, and Marca Bristo, on left, at the dedication for the FDR wheelchair statue on January 10, 2001.
ALT Text: Group gathered near FDR wheelchair statue wearing winter coats and hats. Several people are in wheelchairs.

For those of you who haven’t yet watched the Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp to learn the depth and breadth of change she fought for in our country you can view it here.


She also wrote the books Being Heumann and a young adult book Rolling Warrior.  We are fortunate to have those narratives in her own words to provide testimony to her work, her legacy and what is left to be done.

We at the FDR Committee are proud to have authored a lesson plan about Judy Heumann for teachers to use in the classroom.

The lesson plan was part of a recent presentation by the FDR Committee to the LDA (Learning Disability Association) International Conference.  Judy’s story should be taught in schools, and we will keep pushing for that.

It meant a great deal to have her endorse our work at the FDR Committee. She understood the power of the wheelchair statue image and the tremendous fight it took to get it there. In an interview with Alma Silver (click here) Judy said: “I think for any children with disabilities, seeing him (FDR) in a wheelchair has got to be important, you know, because they can draw next to the wheelchair, their eyes view that they’re at eye level with him. I think all of that is very important.” A text version of the interview can be found here

Judy was an active member of our Advisory Board and donated her time generously. She was a speaker at our webinar “The FDR Memorial; Unveiling the Hidden History” when we released our initial archives.

She joined us again for a webinar to discuss and promote Crip Camp

On a personal note, Judy is a household name in my house. One day my son, who has disabilities said he wasn’t going to use his accommodations for a test. I followed him out the door telling him I was going to get Judy on the phone. He knew that Judy was one of the key people who made it possible for him to even go to school and succeed in the first place. As opposed to being the mom yelling out the front door that I am going to call your father, I was instead yelling I am going to call Judy Heumann. He knew that Judy fought for him years ago and he had to exercise all of his rights – which he did and will continue to do so.

That is the impact she had - systemic and individual on the ground change.  We have to carry on. 


Yours in service,

Mary E. Dolan

Co-Founder & Executive Director

FDR Memorial Legacy Committee 


Click here for additional information about Judy's legacy. 

Click here for information about her service.