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.
WID’s work has now greatly evolved to implement the mission of building a more inclusive global society for people with disabilities. We have continued to grow by prioritizing Accessibility and Universal Design, Community Inclusion and Emergency, Disaster, and Climate Resilience.
Ed, Joan and I were the original conceivers of WID along with many other disabled individuals, and over the last 40 years WID has continued to draw in more leaders from the disability community to advance our work. Over the course of the year, we will be highlighting those who were instrumental in our
WID started out as an organization that worked with the global community and we look forward to continuing to build off of the original mission of the organization by bringing our global community together in as many ways as we can to listen and learn what must be included as we create our 10-year plan to bring us even closer to realizing our shared vision of equity and inclusion by our 50th anniversary in 2033.
As we celebrate Ed Roberts Day, I invite you to join me by staying engaged with WID this, to learn more about WID’s mission, to get in on the work WID is doing, and to ultimately invest in global discussions around disability rights and the work that must be done to create new systems, new
connections, and new ideas that will bring us closer to justice for all. Ed would expect nothing less. We all must expect nothing less of ourselves and our communities, and we must do so while remembering visionaries like Ed, that made today’s advances possible, and continuing to support emerging disabled leaders to envision and create a more accessible, equitable, inclusive and just future for all.
Yours in solidarity,
Co-Founder of the World Institute on Disability
International Disability Rights Advocate