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My name is Judy Heumann, and I’m a proud co-founder of the World Institute on Disability (WID). It’s hard to believe that WID is 40 years old. As I think about WID’s future, I harken back to the early days when so many activists were pushing for broader representation of disabled people. At the time, there
were no public policy think tanks for disabled people. Ed Roberts, Joan Leon, and I wanted to change that and thus WID was born.
It is fitting that on Ed’s birthday today, we also celebrate WID’s founding and 40th anniversary, for they are forever linked in a global movement for the rights, opportunities, equity, and justice for all people with disabilities.
Ed is known by many as the “Father of the Independent Living Movement” and I’m often called the “Mother of the Independent Living Movement.” Together, we were instrumental in advancing Centers for Independent Living across the United States. We were able to influence and develop policy at federal, state, and local levels with a mission to achieve the full inclusion of people with disabilities throughout all facets of our society.
As we look at the next 40 years of WID and beyond, I believe we can all carry with us Ed’s fighting spirit that enabled him to make an ever-lasting change, in our community and the entire world. Ed is an example of the power of one, but he is also an example of what community engagement looks like.