Knowing that higher education can play a powerful role advancing disability justice, inclusivity and equity, UCLA’s School of Nursing and disability studies program are welcoming internationally renowned disability rights activist Judy Heumann to campus for a week of conversations, talks and workshops.
Heumann will be here Feb. 7-10. The culminating event will be the Regents’ Lecture on Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. PST. The lecture will be held online and is free and open to the public. The Regents of the University of California established the Regents’ Professors and Lecturers Program to permit the appointment, on a visiting basis, of distinguished leaders from fields outside the traditional boundaries of the academic world to enrich the university’s instructional program and increase students’ exposure to a diverse range of successful professionals, artists and others.
Lauren Clark, Shapiro Family Professor in Developmental Disabilities Studies in the nursing school, said Heumann’s visit and lecture will challenge the UCLA community to consider new ways to incorporate disabled identities and experiences into conversations and actions surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion, both inside and outside health care.
“It’s an opportunity for mindful reflection for us to think about what role do nurses want to play in the future in a population where a significant number of people have a variety of disabilities,” Clark said. “Nursing needs to be challenged to grow from a medical model and a rehabilitation focus to integrate the arts, humanities and social sciences to think about disability. And we have to have more diverse nurses in every sense of the word including nurses with disabilities.”
Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability rights community. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of legislation such as Section 504, the Individuals with Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and served in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
Her lecture, titled “Disrupting Ableism in Higher Education and Beyond,” will be a conversation on disability justice and intersectionality with Heumann, Andy Imparato, executive director of Disability Rights California, and Vivian Haun, a senior attorney in the intellectual/developmental disabilities practice group at Disability Rights California.
“As the disability movement is growing around the world, it's expanding into so many different fields. And academia clearly is very important,” Heumann said. “One of the big problems has been that there has not been enough effective learning about disability not just for disabled students, but across university campuses.”
Imparato has collaborated with Heumann on policy advocacy and movement building for almost 30 years.
“I am excited for the opportunity to join Professor Clark and Judy Heumann and my colleague Vivian Haun to reflect on the important role institutions of higher education like UCLA can play in framing disability issues, helping to build inclusive campus cultures, and supporting more disability-friendly workforces and communities across California and beyond,” Imparato said.
During her visit to UCLA, Heumann will meet with several faculty and student groups, including medicine, nursing, and dentistry students, the UCLA Disabled Student Union, and students in UCLA Extension’s Pathway program. She will also give a guest lecture in the new undergraduate course “Care Work: Disability Justice and Healthcare,” which is co-listed in nursing and disability studies, and take part in an interdisciplinary discussion on disability policy.
Heumann said Clark and the nursing school’s efforts to remove barriers and biases within the school’s admission process to encourage more diverse applicants, and UCLA’s disability studies minor, are examples of the kind of progress that universities should be making.
In the lecture, Heumann said she hopes to elevate and advance the discussion of how institutions like UCLA can lead the way in providing not only equal opportunities to disabled students, but also incorporating disability “as a theme that needs to be included across everything always.”
Heumann was featured in the 2020 documentary film “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” and serves on several non-profit boards including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Humanity and Inclusion, as well as the Human Rights Watch board. She was a founding member of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living and co-founder of the World Institute on Disability.
Her memoir, “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist” co-authored by Kristen Joiner, was published in 2020. She produces a podcast called “The Heumann Perspective