Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution showcases the powerful fight for disability rights and the pioneers who paved the way for a more inclusive society. At the heart of the documentary is the tenacious, inspiring activist – Judith Heumann who sadly passed away last month. The Netflix film, directed by James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, transports you to Camp Jened, a summer camp for disabled teenagers, and explores the challenging journey of these individuals who have been segregated and shunned by society. 

I shouldn’t be thankful for getting to use the bathroom

Heumann’s profound remarks about not being thankful for going to the bathroom poignantly highlights the struggles disabled individuals face daily. This eye-opening comment is more than just about bathroom accessibility. It accentuates how the disabled community is often made to feel that they should be grateful for even the most basic rights that others take for granted. Heumann’s courageous dedication to challenge societal norms and expectations is truly transformational. Her words have changed how I Iook at accessibility and they will for the remainder of my life. I can admit I have taken for granted the mobility I do have and I haven’t considered how hard navigating a bathroom stall for someone with less mobility can be. There are some small bathroom stalls that are deemed “accessible.” However, when I go inside of them they remind me of a human sardine can. At times I can’t help but think to myself if you need to do acrobatics in a bathroom stall to use the restroom it’s not accessible. 

The 504 Sit-In
The film beautifully and emotionally captures the spirit of activism in the face of adversity when it talks about the 504 Sit-In. Which I knew nothing about before I watched the documentary. This pivotal event, led by Heumann, marked the longest sit-in in a federal building in American history. The 26-day siege was instrumental in pushing for the enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The resolve of these protesters sleeping on the floor while risking bed sores and not eating or drinking for days was truly life altering. At one point in the documentary a group of disabled individuals entered a Hertz truck in complete darkness, and we’re driven to politician Joseph Califano’s house in hopes of speaking with him and showing their disappointment. No such meeting took place. Califano avoided the protesters by leaving his house through the backdoor. 

Capitol Crawl Tipping Point For ADA
Another pivotal moment shown in Crip Camp is the extraordinary Capitol Crawl in 1990. This display of solidarity and strength by the disabled community played a crucial role in securing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Demonstrators demanding equal rights and the removal of physical barriers crawled up the US Capitol’s steps, symbolizing the challenges they encountered in everyday life. This evocative act left an memorable mark on legislative history and society as a whole.

Crip Camp showcases the resilience of these activists who defied powerful politicians that argued against accommodating the needs of a small group of people. Shining a light on disability rights, the documentary clashes against ignorance and prejudice. It is a testament to the power of human will and the significance of unity for progress.

Crip Camp is a detailed portrayal of the civil rights movement for disabled individuals, highlighting Judith Heumann’s relentless pursuit for change. The film emphasizes the importance of fighting for equality, dismantling barriers, and celebrating the strength of the disabled community. Heumann, along with countless other activists, embodies the essence of perseverance, courage, and unwavering determination that has transformed the lives of millions around the world. The story of Crip Camp is one of empowerment, inspiration, and, most importantly, unyielding hope for an inclusive future.