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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Events March 23, 2021

On the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act


Judy Heumann and Tom Hehir—leaders in the movement for disability rights—will offer a Presidential Colloquium “On the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1.

The virtual event is open to the public at no charge—as is a related, March 24 discussion of Judy Heumann’s new memoir, “Being Heumann.” Members of the campus and alumnae community are invited to participate via Zoom; members of the general public may join via a livestream on Smith’s Facebook page.

About Judy Heumann

Judy Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the Disability Rights Independent Living Movement. Since the 1970s, her work with a wide range of activist organizations (including the Berkeley Center for Independent Living and the American Association of People with Disabilities), NGOs and governments has contributed greatly to the development of human rights legislation and policy benefiting disabled people. She has advocated for disability rights in the United States and abroad, serving in the Clinton and Obama administrations and as the World Bank’s first adviser on disability and development. Her book, “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist,” released in 2020, details her story of fighting to belong in a world that “wasn’t built for us.”

About Tom Hehir

Tom Hehir recently retired after nearly 20 years as the Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he taught courses on federal education policy and on educating students with disabilities. He has spent his entire career in the field of special education as a classroom teacher, local administrator in both Boston and Chicago, and as a university professor. He served as director of the Office of Special Education Programs for the U.S. Department of Education during the first six years of the Clinton Administration.

About the Americans with Disabilities Act

This year marks the 30th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. Throughout this 30th anniversary year, the Civil Rights Division is recognizing the many ways in which the ADA has transformed American society and enabled a generation of Americans with disabilities to thrive. At the same time, many barriers to equal opportunity still remain. The United States Justice Department recommits to the work of making the promise of the ADA a reality, enabling all Americans with disabilities to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential.

About Smith’s Presidential Colloquium Series

The Presidential Colloquium regularly features influential thought leaders in a wide range of fields—from poets and writers to economists and policy experts—to share their expertise, offer insights and inspire discourse on key social, political and global topics that call for our attention. Lectures are free and open to the public.

This year’s Presidential Colloquia will feature political philosopher Michael Sandel and former San Juan, Puerto Rico, mayor C. Yulín Cruz, among others. All events are virtual in 2021 and are open to the public at no charge; details and registration information are available online.