List of Disability Rights Activists

A disability-rights activist or disability-rights advocate is someone who works towards the equality of people with disabilities. Such a person is generally considered a member of the disability-rights movement and/or the independent-living movement.


  • Javed Abidi – the Director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) in India
  • Gabriela Brimmer – had cerebral palsy; life chronicled in the American-Mexican drama film Gaby: A True Story (1987), directed by Luis Mandoki
  • Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton – had spinal muscular atrophy and was a commissioner of the British Disability Rights Commission
  • Judi Chamberlin – an American activist, leader, organizer, public speaker and educator in the psychiatric survivors movement; her political activism followed her involuntary confinement in a psychiatric facility in the 1960s the author of On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System, which is a foundational text in the Mad Pride movement
  • James I Charlton – activist who feels disability is socially constructed and author of Nothing About Us Without Us.
  • Claudia Cockburn – British activist for transportation accessibility
  • Tony Coelho – an epileptic; a former congressman from California who was the primary author and U.S. House sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr. – a co-founder of the American Association of People with Disabilities; had post-polio syndrome
  • Theresa Ducharme – founded the disabled-rights advocacy group People in Equal Participation Inc. in 1981; the organization's chair for many years thereafter
  • Edward Evans – Chairman of the Ministry of Health Health Advisory Committee on Handicapped Persons from 1949 to 1960
  • Fred Fay – American advocate for disability; paralyzed
  • Julie Fernandez – actress with osteogenesis imperfecta; founded The Disability Foundation; active on presentation of the disabled
  • Catherine Frazee – a co-director of Ryerson University's Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education
  • Lex Frieden – Chairman of the National Council on Disability from 2002-2006 and a key developer of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Judy Fryd – founded group that became Mencap
  • Laura Hershey – protested MDA Labor Day Telethon; a feminist and born with a form of muscular dystrophy
  • Judith Heumann – wheelchair user who co-founded the World Institute on Disability; served as its co-director from 1983 to 1993; became the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State
  • Davina Ingrams, 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth – British Paralympian and Representative peer
  • Harriet McBryde Johnson – a New Mobility "Person of the Year"; a disability-rights attorney; an anti-euthanasia activist
  • Bonnie Sherr Klein – directed the documentary film Shameless: The ART of Disability (2006)
  • Paul K. Longmore – an American history professor and activist who was instrumental in the establishment of disability studies, and in changes to Social Security that granted people with disabilities more rights
  • Ron McCallum – member of Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; has been on the National People with Disabilities and Carers Council; Chair of Radio for the Print Handicapped of New South Wales Co-operative Ltd.; the first totally blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship at an Australian university
  • Anne McDonald – efforts for independence of the disabled and went to conferences on the matter
  • Kathryn McGee – an American activist who founded the National Association for Down Syndrome and the National Down Syndrome Congress; her daughter Tricia had Down syndrome
  • Alf Morris – introduced the Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act and first "Minister for the Disabled" in Great Britain or anywhere else
  • Ari Ne'eman – co-creator of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Jean-Christophe Parisot – Founder of Collectif des Démocrates Handicapés
  • Ajith C. S. Perera – Chief Executive IDIRIYA in Sri Lanka – activist who feels disability is socially constructed backed by disabling built environments, wrong perceptions, false beliefs and negative attitudes towards diversity in ability.
  • Richard Pimentel – active in workplace rights for the disabled
  • Victor Pineda – the youngest government delegate to participate in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Alan Reich – a wheelchair user who founded the National Organization on Disability
  • Gilberto Rincón Gallardo – Mexican politician with shortened arms who worked on disability issues
  • Edward Roberts – the first quadriplegic to attend the University of California, Berkeley; his fight for access at Berkeley spread into seeking access in the community and the development of the first Centre for Independent Living
  • Sandra Schnur – director of the New York City Half-fare Program for the Handicapped; wrote an early guide for disabled in the city; had quadriplegia
  • Max Starkloff (1937–2010) – founded Paraquad, one of the first independent living centers in the United States, as well as the National Council on Independent Living and the Starkloff Disability Institute; one of the key advocates who brought the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990
  • Chris Underhill – a founder of Thrive and Action on Disability and Development
  • Ron Whyte – playwright who was on the President's Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped
  • Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah – Ghanaian cyclist with one leg who rode across Ghana to raise awareness and works to increase the number of wheelchairs in his country
  • Frieda Zames – a mathematics professor, writer and advocate for access to all aspects of public life, especially transportation. As an official of Disabled in Action, she campaigned for wheelchair access on New York City buses, ferries and taxis and buildings like the Empire State Building. With her sister, Zames wrote the book, "The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation."

Famous quotes containing the words list of, rights and/or list:

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    Janet Frame (b. 1924)

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    Andrew Jackson (1767–1845)

    I made a list of things I have
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    Linda Pastan (b. 1932)