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As one of the most influential disability rights activists in U.S. history, Judy Heumann has spent her career fighting to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion. The lawsuits she won, sit-ins she led, and legislation she championed all sparked a national movement that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Heumann is also the daughter of refugees who fled Nazism in the 1930s, and the granddaughter of German Jews who were killed by the Nazis. Growing up in Brooklyn, she was acutely aware of her family’s story—and she understood, on multiple levels, the dangers of bigotry and the importance of speaking out against it.

Her story is featured in the Oscar-nominated 2020 film Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution and in her recently-released book Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist.

In this conversation with with Bill Abrams, President of Trickle Up and former President of New York Times Television, Heumann discusses her family background in the Holocaust, her new memoir, and her remarkable career fighting to forge a society in which we all belong.

Watch the program below.

Legacies is a Museum series which highlights notable figures who have a connection to Jewish heritage, identity, and the Holocaust. Legacies is made possible with a gift from Marc Kirschner in honor of Nancy Fisher.

 

This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.

Ari Goldstein: i'm Ari Goldstein Senior Public programs producer museum of Jewish heritage, the living memorial to the Holocaust.

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Ari Goldstein: And it's a pleasure to welcome you to today's legacies program with Judy human and bill abrams legacies it's made possible with the gift from mark kirschner and honor of Nancy Fisher.

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Ari Goldstein: Judy human is one of the most influential disability rights activists in US history, helping spark the movement that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

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Ari Goldstein: Judy was actually the White House yesterday celebrating the 31st anniversary of the day.

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Ari Goldstein: Judy's story was recently told in the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, which is currently streaming on netflix and it was just announced this week that.

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Ari Goldstein: she'll also be featured in a new apple original film starring Ali Stroker. Judy also runs the Heumann Perspective, a terrific podcast available on apple and spotify which we encourage you to check out.

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Ari Goldstein: Judy also recently published a memoir Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, you can order the book and check out some of judy's other work at the link in the zoom chat.

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Ari Goldstein: Judy will be in conversation today with bill abrams the President of trickle up.

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Ari Goldstein: bill was previously, the President of New York Times TV and Vice President of business development for ABC news among as many projects, he was the executive producer of the 1997 PBS documentary the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

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Ari Goldstein: we're honored to have both of them with us today, please feel free to share questions in the zoom Q amp a box, as they chat and we'll try to get to as many as we can, without further ado welcome Judy and bill feel free to get started.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you IRA and it's it's a real pleasure to be here at the Museum of Jewish heritage is about a mile walk from my house and been there many times it's a great institution so i'm very.

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Bill Abrams: pleased to be part of this event and very pleased to again share a stage virtual or otherwise, with my good friend Judy human we've known each other, I guess, about a dozen years, maybe longer.

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Bill Abrams: And friends professional colleagues different settings.

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Bill Abrams: I always learned from Judy and I know you will today as well.

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Judy Heumann: Our format is NASA.

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Bill Abrams: Okay.

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Judy Heumann: I always learn from Bill.

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Bill Abrams: Our format today Judy and i'll have a conversation for about 40 minutes give or take, and then we want to make sure there's time for your questions.

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Bill Abrams: And discussion, I would encourage everyone to go ahead at any time and put your questions into the chat function and we may we've some of them into the conversation will kind of go with the flow.

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Bill Abrams: So I hope everybody knows that he gets down there on the bottom of your screen how to how to insert questions there will also be an opportunity to do someone camera or whatever so.

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Bill Abrams: With that, we will get started and.

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Bill Abrams: I no idea how many of you have read judy's autobiography being human which I hold up if you haven't read it, you should.

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Bill Abrams: And I want to quote the very first line which was quote I never wished I didn't have a disability.

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Bill Abrams: And when I read this book a number of months ago, I was surprised by that line and i'm sure that surprise, many of you are watching so Judy tell us what you meant by that statement, I never wished I didn't have a disability.

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Judy Heumann: yeah I mean I had polio in 1949 and my disability is a part of who I am, and so I think in many ways i've really looked at my life and the lives.

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Judy Heumann: of my friends and others with disabilities as that one where we have to become non disabled, but where people need to see us as a part of the.

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Judy Heumann: structure of our societies and that changes need to be made, which enable us to be included in all aspects of life, and I think you know, as I got older.

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Judy Heumann: You know i've really you know looked at.

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Judy Heumann: medical research which is focusing on curing people so that they don't have their disabilities, and you know, polio is polio, is a virus that came in it went and it left to as you are and.

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Judy Heumann: I just really have felt that.

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Judy Heumann: People not accepting me and other disabled people for who we are, means that somewhere people have this vision that will live in a world where there are no disabled people and even if we were to eradicate every.

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Judy Heumann: phone form of disability, which comes from cancer or cove it or whatever it may be, we still on a regular basis are causing disability.

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Judy Heumann: Whether it's through famine or war or other forms of violence, so disabled people are here to stay.

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Judy Heumann: And for me it's much better to invest my time and others and allowing society to recognize that disability is a normal part of life and that we need to address the barriers that are man made.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you so as I already mentioned yesterday was the 31st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush.

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Bill Abrams: And you were in a ceremony yesterday with President Biden and Vice President Harris, to mark this historic event can you give us a short explanation of how the Ada defines disability, how it differs from the old medical model of disability in why this legislation now 30 years old.

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Bill Abrams: was and remains so important, I guess that's a report which.

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Judy Heumann: So I will try to remember all aspects and you'll tell me what i'm not answering now, first of all, the definition of disability, one could say, is a medical definition it's a disability is something which limits one or more major life activities and it can be caused by you know.

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Judy Heumann: every kind of disability.

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Judy Heumann: and

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Judy Heumann: Disability defined by the Ada is also if someone is perceived of as having a disability um so you can look at it this way.

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Judy Heumann: one who has a disability physical, intellectual invisible with my mental health diabetes Lopez.

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Judy Heumann: on and on and some disabilities, which may start out invisible and then may become visible like Ms and parkinson's etc, and if one.

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Judy Heumann: So that's one group and then let's say that I, you have a friend or a sibling or a partner who has a disability.

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Judy Heumann: And it might have been a so we've saw you know, certainly in the 90s, where someone who was closely related to somebody who had AIDS.

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Judy Heumann: might be being denied a job because of the belief that they would be spreaders and even though they didn't have aids which would have covered them.

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Judy Heumann: They could be denied jobs, so they could file a complaint, so I think you know when we look at who we are it's very broad limiting one or more life activities.

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Judy Heumann: Is is very broad, and we know that, according to CDC one in four people now have a disability in the United States now you know disabilities are from very significant to.

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Judy Heumann: What much less significant, and so a definition comes into play, if you believe that you've been discriminated against.

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Judy Heumann: In a way, that this ability was the cause of that discrimination.

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Judy Heumann: That answer your question.

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Bill Abrams: yeah so talk a little bit more about the Ada.

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Bill Abrams: act itself, the Americans with disability act and why was so important to what, how is it important today was important in 1990 and I think it's still important so.

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Judy Heumann: I think the way to look at it is the Civil Rights Act of 64.

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Judy Heumann: right we look at the Civil Rights Act of 64 as important, still today because there's so many things that have not yet been realized.

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Judy Heumann: it's the same thing with the Ada I mean it took us because disability was not a part of the Civil Rights Act of 64 so basically took us 26 years to be able to have comparable legislation and.

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Judy Heumann: it's important because.

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Judy Heumann: For many people look at issues around discrimination and disability as physical barriers, the disability Community looks at it much more broadly, as does the law.

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Judy Heumann: So, employment, for example, Title one is a very important part of the Ada prior to the Ada we had section 504 and a couple of other provisions but they didn't cover the private sector.

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Judy Heumann: So the Americans with Disabilities Act covers the private sector, which means that buildings which are being billed series which are being constructed.

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Judy Heumann: Schools etc what schools were covered earlier but shopping malls movie theaters I not only have to be accessible, but can't discriminate in the area of employment and.

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Judy Heumann: Technology is something that was mentioned in the Ada but now that technology is playing a much bigger role, you can see how things like captioning and audio descriptions are becoming much more prevalent.

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Judy Heumann: For a variety of reasons, but the Ada, I think, broadly speaking, acknowledges that disabled people are part of the fabric of the United States and by passing this law making it illegal to discriminate based on disability really stipulates that.

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Judy Heumann: This society recognize that the barriers that have been placed before us as disabled people were not enabling us to live our lives in equitable way.

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Judy Heumann: And so the light itself, basically, is as President Bush said young emancipation proclamation in the disability community and why is it important today.

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Judy Heumann: it's important today, because while we've made progress, we certainly have not ameliorated many of the barriers that disabled people face and again it's not just the physical barriers, you know, so I think.

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Judy Heumann: I do a lot of public speaking, and I speak to a lot of businesses and many companies now are setting up.

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Judy Heumann: Either er geez or affinity groups and they've had them for many years on, for many different groups, but the disability.

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Judy Heumann: Community you're seeing more and more of these companies have either the air geez or the affinity groups typically the disability ones are the last that have come into being and it's interesting to talk with people from these both businesses and larger companies that could be nonprofits.

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Judy Heumann: A bad habit, how they are.

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Judy Heumann: Basically I think coming together recognizing that their opportunities within the entity that they working in are still not on par.

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Judy Heumann: with other people within the companies that there's still bias in recruitment and hiring and retention and advancement and.

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Judy Heumann: That the culture of these organizations still is not changing in a significant enough way that disabled employees or family members who have disabled people in their families.

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Judy Heumann: feel that they can disclose I think one of the huge issues is that there are many disabled individuals with invisible disabilities and not even invisible disabilities who don't want to disclose.

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Judy Heumann: Who don't want to identify I mean I was talking to a company today that has about 30,000 employees and out of 30,000 employees, they did a survey, and I think 900 people identified as having a disability.

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Judy Heumann: And one of the people.

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Judy Heumann: Who is a part of this group.

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Judy Heumann: Has a spreader and I did not define himself as having a disability.

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Judy Heumann: And I think, by the end of our discussion I hopefully.

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Judy Heumann: made him feel that it's okay to identify as having a disability, I think you know there's such a stigma.

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Judy Heumann: I just did a BBC interview with people left for the people from different countries, and this issue of Stigma is everywhere and so.

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Judy Heumann: Not identifying not speaking up and out about who we are, I get not identifying is having a disability, I think, is something which is internationally pervasive and bringing this back to the Jewish community.

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Judy Heumann: I think it's fair to say that we're no different than any other group, I want to say also that I feel like over the last 10 years or so, there really has been more.

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Judy Heumann: focus on looking at opportunities for us to really bring the voice of disabled people forward within the Community the room and foundation and others who.

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Judy Heumann: have supported and nurtured like February as national disability Jewish awareness and inclusion month I am not a big one on months or days, but I think really it's been valuable for those.

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Judy Heumann: religious institutions that have taken it seriously to really look more in depth at what they're doing and I think equally important talking to disabled people within their religious community about what we actually feel about what's going on great.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you we'll come back to that a little bit later as well, the whole Jewish community one question that came up, let me ask two questions that have to do with.

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Bill Abrams: Language we had a question box from tanya barnett who asked, do you like the label disability, the actual word, what about using differently able is it's more positive.

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Judy Heumann: I hate differently abled.

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Judy Heumann: Because I mean if everybody's differently able, what does that mean, I mean bill and I he's different than I am so we're differently, Eva I hate using the word able.

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Judy Heumann: I hate the presumption that we're having to say that disability means that able, I am not able to walk that is a fact, nothing will change that fact, but from a political perspective I don't want to be aligned with a group called differently abled.

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Judy Heumann: From a political point of view, I want to be seen as an important voting constituency I want us to be seen.

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Judy Heumann: As an important group of people, as I was discussing in the area of employment Community integration religious life etc and i've used the word disabled.

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Judy Heumann: Since like the late 1960s and this debate about terminology has gone on waiver for that, but certainly has been a front and Center issue for decades, and I feel a little more confident than ever that more and more disabled people are wanting to just say the word and move beyond it, and.

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Judy Heumann: So some people feel comfortable with disabled people, some people like people with disabilities.

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Judy Heumann: I really want to discourage people from using all these ma euphemisms which, in my view, basically are terms that non disabled people have created.

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Judy Heumann: And nobody else plays around with any other groups, the women, women doesn't say, women are men, I mean they're all these words that we can take apart.

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Judy Heumann: and be critical of the word disabled means an inability to do something, not necessarily completely, but my limited way, but the bottom line is it isn't the totality of who I am.

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Judy Heumann: And it isn't the totality of who anyone is and so leave the word alone stop fighting on this issue of the word and get down to the substance of making the meaningful changes that need to be made don't tell me what I should call myself okay.

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Bill Abrams: So another.

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Bill Abrams: Language question I guess able ISM, which is a term that one off and here's in discussions of disability and minute be less familiar to people who are in those circles, what is able ISM.

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Judy Heumann: I mean the word that was used to fly is handicapped and I always say that handicap ISM never got the prominence that able ISM has gotten but able ISM is basically.

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Judy Heumann: In my view.

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Judy Heumann: Looking at the biases that non disabled people have in trying to get us to conform to being non disabled or able bodied and it's um you know we can get into much more in depth discussion around it, but able ISM is really a denial of our rights it's an expression of.

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Judy Heumann: it's racism and sexism it's the same i'm the radical background and utilizing that word.

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Judy Heumann: ablett stable ISM Thank you.

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Bill Abrams: So i'm going to shift gears a little bit and as this event is being held at least virtually at the Museum of Jewish heritage its full name is also includes.

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Bill Abrams: A living memorial to the Holocaust let's talk about the Shoah which figures prominently in your own family biography.

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Bill Abrams: Both your parents came to United States from Germany in 1930s sent by their parents who later perished in the Shoah. So how do you look back on all that.

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Bill Abrams: As well as the fact that some of the very earliest victims of what became his hitler's mass genocide were disabled children it's almost where he started in the sense So how do you look back at the Holocaust both personally and more globally or more universally.

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Judy Heumann: Well, I think what globally and universally.

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Judy Heumann: We look at the fact that it took quite a while for people to recognize what was being done to disabled children.

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Judy Heumann: In the beginning of the Holocaust and ones value for the life of disabled people, and I think you could see this.

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Judy Heumann: In coven starting last year when policies were coming out that were attempting to prioritize non disabled people as being more valuable to provide medical interventions and medical technology like respirators.

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Judy Heumann: And were disabled individuals could have if the policies would have been fought against really resulted even more disabled people.

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Judy Heumann: losing their lives, and in some cases states were looking at taking respirators away from disabled individuals who normally use them to give them to other people, so I think.

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Judy Heumann: You know the issue of the value of the disabled persons, life is really something that continues to be questioned and that's a large part of.

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Judy Heumann: What it is that you know the disability community is saying is that our lives, need to be as valued as the lives of non disabled people for me personally.

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Judy Heumann: um How did the Holocaust play out in my life um I would say that my parents, like many others had to be resilient to be able to really come through.

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Judy Heumann: These terrible tragedies, my father my mother's story is a little bit different because my mother was an only child and she was sent to live with a distant relatives that she didn't know and they were all.

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Judy Heumann: You know much older than my mother and, of course, she, like many others anticipated seeing her parents sometime in the future and that ever happened.

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Judy Heumann: My dad was sent to live with relatives in brooklyn my mother was sent to Chicago and my my father's.

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Judy Heumann: Three brothers all got out and so he was with uncle and other relatives in brooklyn in a small community, so it was different the tragedy was equal, but the fact that family supports, but I think you know my dad was in the marines and carlson's raiders and he and my mother met in Philadelphia.

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Judy Heumann: When he was home on leave and he was visiting his brother and my mother was visiting a distant relative in Philadelphia and.

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Judy Heumann: You know their story is great because they Their stories all through letters, including my father proposing and my mother accepting and then my father going out to meet the woman that he was the relative that he was she was living with.

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Judy Heumann: When I when they got married they moved to brooklyn and I was born in 47 and I had polio and 49 when I was about two years old and I learned, when I was 36 that a doctor had recommended my parents put me in an institution.

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Judy Heumann: And I think you know that story even today is one which is unfortunately not uncommon you know my presumption is that.

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Judy Heumann: A my parents never told me because they didn't want me to know and be that they wouldn't have done something like that, because of the history of.

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Judy Heumann: What went on in Nazi Germany with disabled kids and the Holocaust, in general, so you know they early on, made a decision that I was a part of the family and they were going to treat me like they treated my brothers who came after me, and I think this.

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Judy Heumann: You know resilience really played a pivotal role in my parents never accepting know so.

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Judy Heumann: They had expectations of what their responsibilities, were you know teacher your your responsibility, my parents would say is you're going to go to school to learn and that's your job, our job is to work and support you need to learn.

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Judy Heumann: But when I couldn't go to school, because my mom took me to school and the principal denied me the right to go to school, and there was no law.

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Judy Heumann: That said, he couldn't do that and, when he said don't worry, this is human the board event in New York will send a teacher to your House.

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Judy Heumann: For two and a half hours a week, which of course he didn't add my parents clearly understood that that was not equal.

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Judy Heumann: And they were trying to get into a school, and this is in the book, but you know what happened was my mom then tried to enroll me in a Jewish day school.

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Judy Heumann: And so I was in kindergarten and the principal told my mother I I couldn't go to the school because I didn't know enough Hebrew.

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Judy Heumann: So what did that mean it meant I needed to learn Hebrew my parents didn't speak Hebrew so our physical therapists wife was from Israel.

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Judy Heumann: And I don't know how many days a week my mother took me to their place to learn Hebrew and then she called the principal and said, my daughter knows enough Hebrew.

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Judy Heumann: My mother at that point really didn't get then he was not saying I needed to learn more Hebrew he was saying no using that as an excuse, and.

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Judy Heumann: numbers of incidence over my life have occurred like that, but I think what I learned from them, when I was younger is you just keep moving forward you kind of.

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Judy Heumann: Keep plodding through, and I think my mother was always a networker and my father, you know, being a butcher he was a networker also because you know you're always talking to customers and.

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Judy Heumann: that's really.

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Judy Heumann: How I grew up it's looking at Okay, there will be knows that we don't accept no and So what do you do to reverse reverse the nose.

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Judy Heumann: And I think that's really a very important part about the results of the Holocaust it's in spite of the tragedies how people were able to continue to come together and fight to move forward, so I think it's, it is very much a part of a result of my parents experiences.

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Bill Abrams: So you had these amazing sounding parents who were determined and fierce advocates, on your behalf.

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Bill Abrams: Not everyone.

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Bill Abrams: Has parents like that maybe we talk about the whole allies advocates people who are on your side, because if you have a prominent disability, you are always facing.

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Bill Abrams: obstacles and challenges of you, as you have in your life and it's very it's hard i'm sure to go it alone, so what are your thoughts about that.

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Judy Heumann: I mean, I never felt like I was alone.

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Judy Heumann: I think.

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Judy Heumann: You know, a because of my parents and be when I finally started meeting other disabled children and later adults, I was seeing that and first learned.

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Judy Heumann: So I went from home instruction to a.

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Judy Heumann: Public school in a regular building, but the classes, that I were in were only for disabled kids the learning was terrible and actually at one point my parents thought.

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Judy Heumann: of taking me out of the program putting me back on home instruction, because I was learning so little but they decided the socialization was very important.

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Judy Heumann: But when I was learning was that the parents of my friends also were concerned, and that the parents working together so this whole like theme of networking.

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Judy Heumann: it's not that all the parents were doing this, but there were enough parents who really.

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Judy Heumann: Jewish and non Jewish felt that they wanted their kids to be able to succeed in life and that education was important and so at that point in time.

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Judy Heumann: If you had a physical disability and couldn't walk up steps you went back on to home instructions to high school, so my mother and many other mothers primarily i'm basically flat the board of ED never went to court.

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Judy Heumann: But had meetings with the board of ED and got them to make some of the high schools accessible.

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Judy Heumann: And to provide transportation, for us to go those high schools like they had been providing for elementary school and to have support staff in the schools, if people needed assistance like going to the bathroom or getting from class to class or whatever um.

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Judy Heumann: So.

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Judy Heumann: That really enabled me to be meeting other disabled people in high school I started going to Camp when I was nine before I went to Camp to that I went to a camp called occurs, and you know this this interesting discussion about.

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Judy Heumann: Being in segregated environments versus integrated environments and I think, from an educational perspective and an employment perspective, certainly things should always be inclusive, but the ability to bring.

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Judy Heumann: People with similar backgrounds and interesting interests together in a camp situation is something that I think is important.

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Judy Heumann: I think it's important for people in the area of disability just giving my own personal experiences and if you've seen or watch Crip Camp you'll see that.

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Judy Heumann: There is love a spoken and unspoken camaraderie not from everybody to everybody, but it was really valuable to be able to be in a Community where other people understood.

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Judy Heumann: What you meant we were talking about discrimination what you meant when you how you felt about not being able to get on a bus or not being able to go across the street or.

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Judy Heumann: not getting the same kinds of support and thinking about where your careers we're going to go or not knowing other disabled people in careers, because we didn't see many disabled people in in jobs at all and.

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Judy Heumann: It really enabled us to begin to also look at other movements, so I would say the civil rights movement, the women's movement.

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Judy Heumann: And the aging movement, the anti war movement and TV were something that was very, very important, because we were beginning to see.

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Judy Heumann: and understand, as we were getting older, what the civil rights movement, for example, and other movements really meant it was the voices of people coming together in a unified way in expressing opposition to have a were being treated and certainly.

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Judy Heumann: Looking at the civil rights movement integration of schools and on and on.

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Judy Heumann: There were terrible things that were happening to people that we were seeing and reading about people dying for their beliefs and their fight for justice, so that was all very important as our movement has been evolving and I think you know.

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Judy Heumann: When we talk about the effect of institutions and.

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Judy Heumann: We still have not yet been speaking enough and requiring that society itself see the role that is played in the untimely deaths of thousands.

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Judy Heumann: and probably hundreds of thousands of people over generations, you know people that were placed in institutions because of mental health disabilities or intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities or combination of all the above and it's kind of a.

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Judy Heumann: A story like willowbrook state school or pen terrorist in Pennsylvania or others where we don't really know what happened there and I don't know that we really believe that what happened there was really wrong, and I think.

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Judy Heumann: When we look at cove ID and we look at the numbers of people dying in nursing homes and the numbers of people dying in.

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Judy Heumann: Restricted residential housing, I think we still are not as a society, demanding that money be utilized to allow people to live in their own homes more to live.

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Judy Heumann: You know, with one or two people of their choosing and we sell have not really gotten what home and community based services mean.

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Judy Heumann: We still haven't really gotten into thinking about well don't we need laws that were even when we're building private homes have to be accessible, you know what is the beauty of steps.

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Judy Heumann: What is the beauty of narrow doors into bathrooms what is the beauty of so many of these things that cause people not to be able to stay in their own communities, I think there's a lot more that we need to learn and.

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Judy Heumann: I still feel that you know people need to be looking at this, these issues in their 20s 30s 40s on up because statistically, as you get older.

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Judy Heumann: you're more likely to acquire a disability, where you may need some assistance limited Lee or more extensively and one shouldn't think about having to live in a restricted segregated environment so that you're not going to be a burden on your family, thank you.

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Bill Abrams: You know i'm guessing that many, many people in the audience here today and seeing Crip Camp, if you haven't.

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Bill Abrams: You must in a comment, both on Crip Camp and on judy's autobiography is I find found them very important lessons.

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Bill Abrams: In Community and you really saw what Community man when you watch Crip Camp in leadership and judy's ability and others to bring people together to listen to be patient.

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Bill Abrams: Make sure that everyone is included everyone's voices included, including people who have difficulty expressing it in a conventional voice.

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Bill Abrams: They should really use this in courses about leadership, not just putting it into the disability box, so I have a question and then.

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Bill Abrams: I see a couple of the chat box and it has to do with advocacy it seems to me that certainly media has always been a tool in your your advocacy toolbox back some of you may know this.

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Bill Abrams: In 1970 when you were trying to get a job with the New York City school board to teach school and they said you couldn't eat school because you were in a wheelchair, you were a fire hazard.

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Bill Abrams: All kinds of cockamamie excuses and it really turned when.

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Bill Abrams: There was an article in New York Times, I think that helped change people's minds the headline was woman in wheelchair sue's to become.

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Bill Abrams: A teacher so from a very early point and certainly another landmark event in your life as an advocate is the 1977 section 504 sit in rigidity and number of other people literally took over a federal building in San Francisco for 28 days and other buildings to force the federal government.

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Bill Abrams: to actually enforce a law that extensively was on the books but hadn't been authorized hadn't been funded that got a lot of media attention.

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Bill Abrams: So now, you seem like you are a multimedia threat these days you've got a book you've got Crip Camp now have a movie that's going to be made, you have an amazing podcast which I also highly recommend.

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Bill Abrams: So, how does the changing landscape of media play into advocacy today if there were if the section 504 questions come up today with their even via need to have a sit in what everybody just had for Twitter and advocate that way, so how is.

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Bill Abrams: How is media changing your work as a rights advocate.

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Judy Heumann: in a limited way.

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Judy Heumann: I think you know when you have nothing.

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Judy Heumann: Having something almost every day seems like a lot, but when you look at the breadth of the issues that impact disabled people.

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Judy Heumann: And just who we are, the numbers of people we are you would, I would like to presume that when looking at advertising any place.

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Judy Heumann: That seeing disabled people, and you know in disabilities i've been mentioning you've got this combination of visible and invisible disabilities and.

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Judy Heumann: A very large percentage of people have invisible disability so just showing a picture of someone who's deaf or blind has down syndrome, whatever we can like notice.

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Judy Heumann: You also need to make sure that stories about people with invisible disabilities are being told, I would say that there's a little more consciousness.

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Judy Heumann: But still, we have so much ground to make up so are you moving in the right direction, yes um are we, where we need to be, I would say not in any way, shape or form.

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Bill Abrams: It is media let's say Crip Camp, for example, is that able to kind of educate and inform and inspire people in a way that maybe could have never happened on how many thousands of people who've seen it but certainly a lot.

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Judy Heumann: And i'm sure I would.

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Judy Heumann: I would say it's i'm sure at least a million people, I may be wrong, but i'm sure it's had a huge.

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Judy Heumann: Following.

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Judy Heumann: Because it's netflix and because we get coded and because it's also on YouTube do I think it's making a difference, I do.

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Judy Heumann: But how much of a difference, I really don't know because we've not evaluated at all.

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Bill Abrams: You know.

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Judy Heumann: we've had.

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Judy Heumann: Many discussions.

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Judy Heumann: There is an impact campaign that the Jimmy limp rack and Nicole and Sarah newnham the directors and producer decided early on, they wanted to put together and they had a great team of people Andrea live on being one of them who have been working on.

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Judy Heumann: rolling out camp camp beyond just you know watching it they had a summer camp last year, where every Sunday for 16 weeks, they had people who came on.

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Judy Heumann: Mainly disabled individuals learning about different aspects of disability, all of which is great so i'm not criticizing any of this stuff but there was common.

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Judy Heumann: comments that people made when we were at sundance and they were like 12 showings I was at about six of them after each showing they had a Q amp a and you know standing ovations and I think people are genuinely moved as you were saying from the film.

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Judy Heumann: And the question was How come we didn't know this story.

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Judy Heumann: He and I had a bad so often I finally started saying well you know the filmmakers you know you do documentaries, the other people who watch documentaries, how come this story wasn't told.

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Judy Heumann: it's not that people haven't seen that haven't seen us on the street haven't seen some things about what's going on, I think, in order for.

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Judy Heumann: grip cam to make the change that we want when I think Crip Camp is a fantastic movie it allows people a little bit more awareness, but the issue, then, is what do you do with that knowledge, how are you changing your personal life.

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Judy Heumann: What questions are you asking in your daily life, you know, do you have a disability, that you haven't disclosed why haven't you disclosed it are there, people in your immediate family or circle of friends who may have disabilities have you ever spoken to them.

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Judy Heumann: You know.

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Judy Heumann: When we look at the number of homeless people in the United States and countries around the world, the vast majority of those people have disabilities.

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Judy Heumann: You know, have we spoken with them what changes are we making in our lives and our religious life in our businesses and our neighborhoods and I think people also in many ways, are still at this level of what do I call you.

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Judy Heumann: And, and one of the reasons why I really want to be done with other people looking at what they should call me is because, when they're using the word able to me it means they want there's something about the word able.

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Judy Heumann: You know it's a powerful word, I guess, and you don't want me to think of myself as being disabled because it's negative and it's difficult for people to see I don't see disabled as negative.

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Judy Heumann: And, but I do feel very much that we've got to get beyond that i'm not saying we shouldn't discuss it, because I know it's something.

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Judy Heumann: that we need to discuss, I mean, I was in Vietnam, when I worked for the World Bank, we had just given this presentation on the work that I was doing as the advisor in the World Bank.

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Judy Heumann: And this young guy probably in his 20s who was Vietnamese said to me, what should I call you well, first of all that kind of a question being asked in Vietnam really shows have this issue of what do I call you know, he was he did his work in English, but.

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Judy Heumann: People were calling me Judas and Judy the President called me Judas and my friends call me Judy so I actually so he was asking me that question.

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Judy Heumann: Should I call you Judy or Judith and I sell you can call me either Judy are treated and then he said to me no.

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Judy Heumann: Do I call you disable do I call you the able to stable do I call you and he gave all these words, and I said to him, I really hope you were listening to what I was saying about what we need to do and.

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Judy Heumann: You know, I think.

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Judy Heumann: For some reason.

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Judy Heumann: People frequently get caught up in what do I call you not let's sit down and have a discussion and look about what are things that you're experiencing in your life.

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Judy Heumann: And what do we need to do in order to change those experiences it doesn't get to that level of discussion anywhere near as frequently as it does what time should we is yeah.

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Bill Abrams: So we have a couple of questions coming up in the chat box one going back to the theme of.

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Bill Abrams: The role and responsibility of Jewish institutions synagogues and others, so this is a question from 11, who is with the Jewish federation of greater Washington this.

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Bill Abrams: Inclusion group so right there in your part of the country, and he asked what strategies what activities do you think are most effective.

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Bill Abrams: In trying to motivate educate guilt or whatever they will impact leadership boards and synagogues and other organizations to make their facilities and their activities more welcoming to people with disabilities.

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Judy Heumann: i'll answer that in one second in the chat someone has written, could the person doing the captions, please spell Crip Camp correctly.

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Ari Goldstein: We use software to provide our captions so i'm sorry it's not 100% accurate we'll make sure that the transcript after the program says Crip Camp.

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Okay.

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Bill Abrams: So thanks for pointing that out, so the question of what concerning god's do constructively proactively to be more accessible, be more inviting be more open.

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Judy Heumann: I think there needs to be working groups and the shovels which are discussing these issues that said, be composed of majority disabled people.

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Judy Heumann: I think, disabled people should be on the boards, and I think there needs to be learning opportunities, because people are really not only wanting the synagogue's to be accessible.

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Judy Heumann: and by that I mean the deaf people and blind people people arrive to them various forms of physical disabilities and something which.

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Judy Heumann: becomes a natural way of doing things so we make sure that our bemis are accessible that our prayer books are accessible and cove, it is a great example of how.

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Judy Heumann: We have not really been prepared to have captioning on a regular basis or a sign language interpreters for people who may wish to come and this space in religious life.

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Judy Heumann: We need to really look also at Jewish teachings and you know I would not put myself forward at all on looking at.

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Judy Heumann: The Torah etc, but there are many.

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Judy Heumann: places where disability is discussed in a way that at first blush looks like we are being considered in a lesser category than non disabled people there are more and more rabbis with disabilities who are really very knowledgeable.

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Judy Heumann: are a Reagan and many others, I think you know really looking to the disabled, religious community who are.

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Judy Heumann: Working on inclusion of disabled people across the board, they need to be playing a more prominent role, I think the Jewish federations, you know, continuing to really step up and.

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Judy Heumann: making sure that the camps are accessible that services are being provided in a way that people wish them to be provided.

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Judy Heumann: And I think you know it's very important as I talk about you know people acquiring their disabilities as they get older.

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Judy Heumann: We need to look at a way that we can ensure that older people or younger people depending who may have previously been active, but no longer can be, for whatever reason.

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Judy Heumann: That we look at ways beyond just visiting people at home, but we look at ways of getting people if they wish to be able to come.

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Judy Heumann: into synagogues for lectures or religious services, whatever it may be, we need, we need to make sure that people continue to feel connected I when I worked at the Department of Education.

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Judy Heumann: In the 1990s, there had been a grant that had been awarded through our rehabilitation services office looking at which businesses did the best job.

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Judy Heumann: and getting employees who had been working in a company and then became injured and did not go off on disability insurance, but stayed in the workforce and how did that happen.

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Judy Heumann: So course was the company that came in best because they had a requirement that managers had to stay in regular contact with people who had become disabled.

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Judy Heumann: And that, if those people did not return back to work, and it was something that could adversely affect the manager.

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Judy Heumann: Now there is something very valuable about that, because the company wanted to make sure that the workers felt valued and that the changes that were going on in their lives were something that the company wanted to address.

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Judy Heumann: And to help you know if, if possible, for the person to come back to work now that's the same thing for people who've been active in this case in the Jewish community.

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Judy Heumann: If it's something that was a part of someone's life and they can't participate anymore and and because of various barriers, we need to work on those barriers.

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Judy Heumann: But I think the most important thing is get disabled people on the board higher disabled people within the staff of the synagogue's make it known.

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Judy Heumann: Not just once a month or once a year from that we're looking at issues around disability and really be open to looking at simple changes and more significant changes.

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Judy Heumann: So at as we've had every year, a speaker who will come in, most of them have had various forms of disabilities but not everyone to talk about their experiences and they haven't even we had one non Jewish person who came into the interfaith work and she was great.

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Judy Heumann: But there were quite a number of rabbis that have come in and they've been great, and I think it's it's really intentional learning.

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Judy Heumann: And also, I think, with our social justice committees, we need to make sure that disability is not something which is always seen separate, but if you look at the work that goes on in social justice, whether it's around.

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Judy Heumann: Immigrants or around homelessness or around violence against disabled women, whatever the topic may be disabled people are a part of all of that, and so we really need to make sure it's quite understood that disability is across the board.

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Bill Abrams: yeah Thank you and I think you know we've talked a lot about language today, so this word intersection ality has come into the lexicon years.

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Bill Abrams: And I know, as you just spoke to understanding the linkage, ultimately, this is about all about justice with a capital J whether it's racial justice gender justice disability justice.

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Bill Abrams: and so forth, so not.

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Bill Abrams: Looking things too narrowly or not deeply enough, I think, interesting the whole discussion on language today and your point and the point of some of the commentators and Chad is let's move beyond the discussion of.

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Bill Abrams: US label or that label to what are we really.

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Bill Abrams: saying so I want to pick up one other question that's come up.

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Bill Abrams: relates back to the Holocaust question, yes.

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Bill Abrams: But it also relates to this notion of kind of connecting the dots and and the question which comes from Ari Goldstein of the Museum of Jewish heritage is.

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Bill Abrams: Is there, how can we use Holocaust education, which is well established in many school systems and certainly.

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Bill Abrams: Also, as an avenue to talk about disability disability rights certainly directly as to what happened in the early days of the Holocaust is, as you mentioned, the children.

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Bill Abrams: But also, more broadly, what are the takeaways from that to today so.

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Bill Abrams: Is there an opportunity to kind of create those linkages between different ideas ideas that first seem different, but then you put them together okay now, I see the larger the deeper meaning here the different events over history that form titles.

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Judy Heumann: Yes, I think we're talking about injustice and using the Holocaust, as an example, so, certainly when teaching about the Holocaust, we really need to.

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Judy Heumann: Look at the issue of who are the first people being killed, who are the people that were being you know the people being experimented on.

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Judy Heumann: And we need to look at that seriously, we also need to look at when we talk about injustice against different communities, we need to make sure that injustice against disabled people is a part of the teaching that we're giving and.

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Judy Heumann: I just think that when people when children are learning about.

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Judy Heumann: Our Holocaust and others were people our lives that are not being valued, we need to really be raising those points and I think really right now with covert as an example it's a perfect example of talking about have disabled people's lives, have not been valued, I think you know.

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Judy Heumann: When working with children it's important for them to really be allowed to express what their views are around disabled people.

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Judy Heumann: What they think what they've learned, making sure that.

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Judy Heumann: disability is integrated into children's books, you know with pictures of disabled people, disabled children in those books having teachers who are working.

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Judy Heumann: In our schools, who have disabilities, where disability is naturally a part of what's going on and really consciously bringing people in who may have disabilities who can.

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Judy Heumann: Talk about issues around disability in Judaism and what needs to be done and there's I were talking aria about a very good book that came out.

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Judy Heumann: A couple of years ago, looking at integration and Judaism, as the type of book that I think said very effectively be used.

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Judy Heumann: In doing work on a Holocaust education, because it allows people to really look more deeply at what some of the issues are that disabled people have been discussing and confronting.

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Judy Heumann: And just that you have the right people involved in preparing curricula and presenting that information will enable this issue to be addressed more appropriately.

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Bill Abrams: So one brief question I know we're coming up on the end of the hour and then maybe one a little bit longer so President Biden will certainly if nothing else, be remembered as a president with a visible visible disability somewhere, I guess, to FDR.

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Bill Abrams: Based on what you've seen so far he's only been in office six months, do you think he will go down in history as an important President in disability rights will he use the bully pulpit will he advocate and use his budget proactively and console so you're going to be.

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Bill Abrams: Great good mediocre disappointing President in terms of disability rights.

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Judy Heumann: Well, you know of course i'm going to say great or hopefully great he's six months and, and I think he's demonstrating his commitment to disability.

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Judy Heumann: Through things like the home and community based services legislation where they're advocating for $400 billion to be spent on this issue.

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Judy Heumann: it's one of the major issues that disabled people have been asking for increased funding, which will enable waiting lists, be taken away.

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Judy Heumann: and enable people opportunities to live in the Community to move out of nursing homes be prevented from going into nursing homes they're beginning to be appointing people to different jobs, who are respected in the field, who will be involved and really helping to.

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Judy Heumann: Implement laws that my husband just came in before um.

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Judy Heumann: So yes, the answer is, I think he will go down, as the President, who in fact I really did commit to disability his coming out as a stutter I think really.

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Judy Heumann: was very important, and certainly for stutters around the United States and around the world was really a major statement and one which.

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Judy Heumann: enabled him to combat other people saying that he was stumbling and fumbling and it was his intellectual prowess and that was really coming forward to being able to say no, it was the stutter, and this is, you know how you deal with it.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you so.

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Bill Abrams: One of the questions sunday's New York Times, the business section, there was a profile of a woman named crystal baby.

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Bill Abrams: She has spina bifida and is used a wheelchair, since she was a young child she now works as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in the bronx helping people with disabilities.

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Bill Abrams: achieve the employment goals that they defined not the goals of other people define for them and then the article which was actually more of a graphic.

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Bill Abrams: Presentation conventional she was quoted as saying well I don't think our society is more open to people with disabilities, now I just think we're more in your face you agree with that disagree, when I shared it a little bit.

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Judy Heumann: I don't I don't disagree at all, I mean I think it's fair to say that when getting back to one of your earlier questions about media.

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Judy Heumann: it's not that media on its own woke up one morning and said Oh, you know guys we're not representing disabled people in that.

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Judy Heumann: It really was very much that disabled people are organizing like there's a group that's being set up of disabled journalists.

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Judy Heumann: there's an organization being created of disabled people who are documented documentary filmmakers there's lots of different work that's being done to advance you know, the inclusion of disabled people and the time I think is.

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Judy Heumann: Is such right now that there's more openness to it, but really as I was also saying earlier when I speak to these major companies and talk to their.

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Judy Heumann: er geez and whatever else they call them I think it's still fair to say that the good news is these groups are forming.

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Judy Heumann: And the good news is these groups are struggling to figure out how to get the companies to really be doing what they want them to do, but for the employees and for the customer base.

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Judy Heumann: And so, yes, we are definitely moving forward, but it wouldn't be happening without the Community itself really and some of the studies.

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Judy Heumann: Like Accenture study on diversity and showing that diversity improves the bottom line for companies and disability is something that was included in their review.

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Judy Heumann: So I think what we're seeing is what we have been saying when it's implemented is really beginning to show people that what we've been saying is right inclusion is it but it's about.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you Judy for.

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Bill Abrams: being here today and sharing your thoughts and for the work you've done in the work you continue to do it's exciting to hear that you're able to influence corporations large corporations with 30,000 employees.

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Bill Abrams: I know people in the government and in institutions like the World Bank are always interested in what you have to say.

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Bill Abrams: Keep it up, I said at the outset that I always learned from God in every conversation we have, and that is true, yet again today i've got a couple of pages and notes to prove it, and just trying to.

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Bill Abrams: Think about kind of what are the key words that i'm putting away others may be different, so the whole discussion around language, not just labels, but the deeper meaning of language and the way we understand each other and talk about each other and about respect.

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Judy Heumann: About.

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Judy Heumann: The one thing that I want people to take away, is that there are so many people in your immediate environments right doing work.

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Judy Heumann: either in their own personal life or with organizations who have disabilities or parents of kids who have disabilities, whatever.

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Judy Heumann: And really you know talk with people listen to people learn from people commit to working together i'm making change, you know i've got this blip in time where i'm getting.

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Judy Heumann: a reasonable amount of attention but there's so many other people there who are so knowledgeable and are doing such great work that you know we really need to continue to expand our universe of those people that were bringing in to learn from and to listen to.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you, so I guess that's a perfect way to end not just a question of what can Judy human do, but what can each one of the hundred plus people on this webinar.

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Bill Abrams: Do now what actions can we take to promote justice and rights for all people regardless of skin color ability disability, the whole gamut it's about what can each of us do.

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Bill Abrams: And so thank you all again and already I think you want to have a few closing remarks.

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Ari Goldstein: it's a brief, thank you, on behalf of the museum duty for sharing your story and reflections in your career with us.

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Ari Goldstein: bill for being our host and moderator and thank you as well to audrey bastion for being our sign language interpreter today.

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Ari Goldstein: This conversation is so important and and to be continued.

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Ari Goldstein: We hope all of you will join us for upcoming museum programs and donate and become members of the museum a for able to support our essential work.

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Ari Goldstein: and wish everyone a great afternoon and we'll be in touch tomorrow with a recording of today's discussion a link to order judy's excellent book being human and some other resources.

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Judy Heumann: Take care and rolling warrior for younger kids.

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Bill Abrams: Well right.

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Judy Heumann: yeah.

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Ari Goldstein: Thanks everyone take care.

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Judy Heumann: bye Thank you I.

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Bill Abrams: Thank you all.

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bye.