Fighting for YES!

The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann

From a very young age, Judy Heumann heard the word NO. When she wanted to attend public school, the principal said NO. When she wanted her teaching license, the New York Board of Education said NO.  Judy and people with disabilities everywhere were tired of hearing NO. 

 In the 1970s an important disability rights law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was waiting to be signed. Judy and other disability rights activists fought for YES! They held a sit-in until Section 504 was signed into law. Section 504 – established thanks in large part to the ongoing work of Judy and her community – laid the foundation for the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
Along with a personal reflection from Judy Heumann herself, this picture book biography captures the impact and influence of one of America’s greatest living activists.

This picture book from Maine writer Maryann Cocca-Leffler and illustrator Vivien Mildenberger is Maine’s pick for the 2024 Library of Congress National Book Festival on August 24 in Washington, D.C.


This clear, straightforward telling of an important activist’s challenges, perseverance, and triumphs offers great grounding for conversations about disability and access in all kinds of settings, as well as frustration, limiting assumptions, the power of community activism, and the importance of law and policy in the shaping of everyday life. 

Fighting for YES! is an excellent book for sparking discussion among folks at any reading level above about 3rd grade.


  • Reading level: 3rd grade 
  • Pictures? Yes! Illustrations throughout. 
  • Form (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic, etc.):  Biography

Bring this book to your community

Conversation has the power to bring people together across social, economic, and cultural boundaries. Why not start one in your community?

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