Great American – Women Trudy Jacobson

Trudy Jacobson Presents Great American Women of History: Judith Huemann


Judith was disabled since childhood, but she didn't let that limit her. Instead, it inspired her to create a movement for the rights of people with disabilities for generations to come.

At a young age, Judith Heumann faced the effects of polio, a disease that limited her mobility. When it was time for her to attend school, she encountered discrimination and was denied entry because she was considered a “fire hazard.”

However, Heumann, alongside her family, fought against this injustice and successfully secured her right to education. This early experience fueled her determination to address similar challenges faced by others.

“Sometimes people need a fire lit within them to achieve great accomplishments. And that’s what happened with Judy,” Trudy said.

Advocacy for Section 504

In the 1970s, Heumann played a pivotal role in the Section 504 Sit-in, a peaceful protest advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. This initiative led to the creation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1973, prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in federally funded programs. It marked a significant step towards ensuring equal treatment and opportunities for everyone.

“Discrimination is and will always be a societal issue. It’s people like Judy who change it for the better,” Trudy said.

Global Impact

Heumann’s influence extended beyond the borders of the United States. In the 1980s, she became the first advisor on disability and development at the World Bank, contributing to global efforts for inclusivity. 

Later, as the U.S. Department of State’s Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, Heumann worked to incorporate disability rights into U.S. foreign policy, emphasizing the importance of fairness and equity worldwide.

“When women accomplish such incredible feats in America, it is usually heard worldwide. Judy’s efforts and voice are still heard today, many years later. Truly inspiring,” Trudy said. 


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

One of Heumann’s most notable achievements was her involvement in creating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. 

This groundbreaking legislation aimed to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities, requiring public spaces, workplaces, and services to be accessible to everyone. The ADA marked a significant shift in societal attitudes and policies regarding disability rights.

Judy Heumann’s enduring legacy lies in the positive changes she brought to the landscape of disability rights. Her tireless efforts have inspired countless individuals to advocate for fairness and inclusivity. Heumann’s story serves as a reminder that collective action can lead to substantial positive changes, fostering a more inclusive and welcoming world for everyone, regardless of ability.

Read about another Great American Woman of History, Tammy Duckworth.

Who is Trudy Jacobson?

Trudy is an entrepreneur and leader. Her path to success and entrepreneurialism started in the trucking industry decades ago. She encountered numerous obstacles in the male-dominated industry- like discrimination. She was even defrauded out of a lot of money by an unscrupulous, opportunistic person. Despite all that, Trudy always fought hard and pushed forward. Once she realized she could do anything, she started her own company and excelled. Now, she empowers other women to do the same and to learn from her experience. Trudy now highlights their stories for the world to see in the Great American Women Series. Trudy wants women everywhere to know they can achieve their goals.