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Disability and Journalism: Profiles

A practical guide with links to suggestions on how journalists should write about people with disabilities, as well as testimonies and examples of the work of journalists with disabilities

Journalists with Disabilities

Sara Lockwood Williams, 1941

Sara Lockwood Williams ( Journalist, founder of the Journalism Library, and wife to Walter Williams, Dean)

She was a member of the Journalism's School's class of 1913, and returned to Columbia in late 1915 to care for her elderly mother. She became a lab assistant, which at that time meant that she was meant to establish the Missourian's "morgue"--and set up the reading room that eventually became the Journalism Library. A broken leg that never healed correctly left her with a visible limp for the rest of her life. "Everyone is kind and sympathetic, making me feel more than ever that I'm a cripple." (A Creed for My Profession, pg 191). She married Walter Williams after a cautious romance in 1927. 

Biography (SHSMO): Sara Lockwood Williams

Steve McCoy

Steven McCoy (founder of Spoken Entertainment)

Information on Mr. McCoy: Making History

s.e. smith | Bitch Media

s. e. smith (journalist and writer)

Biography: Website




Judith Heumann (Disability Activist)

Judith (Judy) Heumann, Disability Activist


Description taken from Judith Heumann's website:

Judith (Judy) Heumann was a lifelong advocate for the rights of disabled people. She contracted polio in 1949 in Brooklyn, New York and began to use a wheelchair for her mobility. She was denied the right to attend school because she was considered a "fire hazard" at the age of five. Her parents played a strong role in fighting for her rights as a child, but Judy soon determined that she, working in collaboration with other disabled people, had to play an advocacy role due to continuous discrimination.

Throughout her life, Judy traveled in her motorized wheelchair to countries on every continent, in urban and rural communities alike. She played a role in the development and implementation of major legislation including the IDEA, Section 504, the Americans with Disability Act and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She died on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at the age of 75. 

Check out her book: Being Heumann

Buy her book: Being Heumann (Indiebound)

Watch Crip Camp: Youtube (free)

TED Talks: Our Fight for Disability Rights

New York Times (you can access thru JLib)

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

PBS NewsHour

People Magazine

Podcast (Heumann Perspective): Youtube (free)

Other Persons with Disabilities

Fyodor Dostoevsky, writer

Biography: Britannica

Disability Information: A Matter of Life and Literature

Check out his books: The Idiot (that's the book title)

Buy his books: Indiebound

Norman Malone, musician (picture courtesy of Kartemquin Films)

Biography: All Things Considered: Quest for Perfection

For the Left Hand: Watch

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, painter

Biography: Biography in Details

Disability Information: Showcasing Disability in Art

Her (Hilarious) Appearance in Coco: Scene starts around 5:45