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Judith Heumann got polio at 18 months old. She learned about discrimination
soon after that. She was not allowed to go to public school until fourth
grade because she was told she would be a fire hazard in her wheelchair.
In spite of this she decided she wanted to be a teacher, but wasn't allowed
to teach until she'd sued the New York City Board of Education for discrimination.
In response to
the discrimination in her own life she started working for the rights
of other people with disabilities. She helped develop the legislation
that became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans
with Disabilities Act, and regulations for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
She is working
as the Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office of Special Education
and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). She has a staff of over 300 people
working with a budget of 5.5 billion to head the Rehabilitation Services
Administration and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research. Her office works to improve the lives of children and adults
with disabilities across the United States.
- "One of
80 women to watch in the 80's," - Ms.
- Woman of the
Year - the state of California Legislature (1990)
- First winner
of the Henry B. Betts Award for "efforts that significantly improve
the quality of life for people with disabilities."
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