In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Meta's Vice President of Product Design and Responsible Innovation, Margaret Stewart, hosted legendary civil rights activist Judy Heumann this week. In addition to her world-renowned work as a disability rights leader, she is also the author of the book Being Heumann, creator of the podcast The Heumann Perspective, and a subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp.
Among her many accomplishments, in 1977 Judy led the 504 Sit-in (a pivotal disability rights protest) at federal offices in San Francisco, which helped pave the way for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, made clear that disability rights are civil rights, and influenced countless global policies. It’s hard to imagine much of the world without the influence of her activism — which moved people to see that barriers lay in our environment, not in the individual — and her impact is reflected in the design of everything from curb cuts on sidewalks to closed captioning on TV and the internet. As Judy puts it so well: “People don’t get that the equivalent of not having captioning is having the mute button on all the time — and we would not accept that as a society, right?”