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Close-up photo of Judy Heumann giving a speech at CIL's 50th anniversary gala. She is wearing a blue jacket, blue pants, and red-framed glasses. She is in a powered wheelchair and holding note cards.

Honoring Judith Heumann

On Saturday, March 4, 2023, we lost a champion in the ongoing fight for civil and human rights. Judith (Judy) Heumann passed away at age 75 in Washington, D.C., after a lifetime of advocacy and effective organizing of people with disabilities. She was a pioneer of the Independent Living Movement, advocated for disability rights her entire life, and built a more accessible world. The Center for Independent Living and its community will be forever grateful for Judy Heumann's courage, commitment, and activism. May her fierce spirit, determination, and the clarity of her vision on behalf of people with disabilities continue to motivate meaningful change around the world.

Judy Heumann giving a speech at CIL's 50th anniversary gala.

Photo of Judy Heumann giving a speech at CIL's Berkeley Street Festival. She is holding a microphone and is on a small stage in front of Ed Roberts Campus.

Judy Heumann giving a speech at CIL's Berkeley Street Festival.

“Change never happens at the pace we think it should. It happens over years of people joining together, strategizing, sharing, and pulling all the levers they possibly can. Gradually, excruciatingly slowly, things start to happen, and then suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, something will tip.”


– Judith Heumann, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist

The Board of the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley announces the establishment of the Judy Heumann Memorial Fund to perpetuate and expand the services and advocacy that Judy initiated during her invigorating leadership of CIL in its early years, in the 1970s and '80s. Judy created at CIL a model of service and activism—by and for people with disabilities—that she was instrumental in replicating throughout the world, as an individual and as a nonprofit and government official.

We add our voices to those of President Biden and others who have hailed her lifetime of activism. There is not a person with disabilities anywhere whose life has not been fundamentally improved by the sturdy foundation that Judy crafted at CIL and at the other pioneering organizations she founded.


We mourn Judy's loss and rededicate ourselves to empowering other people with disabilities using the tools she taught us to wield so skillfully and fearlessly.

Center for Independent Living provides advocacy and services that increase awareness, collaboration, and opportunity among people with disabilities and the community at large.


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Our programs provide people with skills, knowledge, and resources that empower them to eliminate damaging and stereotypical notions of disability so that they can strive toward realizing their full human potential.



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Zona Roberts and CIL's Assistive Technology Coordinator pose for a photo in Zona's living room.
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