Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York



New York, NY

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:





Jean Ryan

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Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York is a left-of-center civil rights organization that focuses on alleged discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Disabled in Action raises awareness of discrimination against people with disabilities and uses litigation and advocacy efforts to promote legal change.


Disabled in Action was founded in 1970 by Judy Heumann, an advocate for people with disabilities. 1 Heumann suffered from polio as a child, resulting in her use of a wheelchair into adulthood. 2 Heumann founded the organization after fighting employment discrimination when she was told by the New York City Board of Education that she could not become a teacher due to her use of a wheelchair. 3 The media attention generated by Heumann’s lawsuit against the Board of Education led to the formation of the Disabled in Action coalition. 4

Disabled in Action has organized and participated in a number of demonstrations related to expanding legal protections for people with disabilities. In 1990, Disabled in Action organized a demonstration in which dozens of disabled individuals crawled up the stone steps of the United States Capitol to demonstrate the building’s lack of wheelchair accessibility. 5


Disabled in Action is actively involved with One Step, a program created by Disabled in Action members in 1992 to eliminate physical barriers that block entry or ease of access to small businesses for disabled people. 6


In 2017, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the City of New York on behalf of a handful of individual plaintiffs and a coalition of disability advocacy groups, including Disabled in Action. The lawsuit alleged that the MTA and the City discriminated against people with disabilities because fewer than a quarter of New York subway stations are accessible to people who cannot use stairs due to disabilities. 7

In June of 2020, a federal judge issued a ruling in Disabled in Action v. The City of New York, that held the New York City Police Department (NYPD) liable for discrimination against disabled individuals. The judge ruled that NYPD stations included physical barriers that prevented mobility-impaired individuals from accessing them. 8


The organization’s only publicly available Form 990 is from 2008 and reported a total revenue of just over $106,000 and total expenses of more than $15,000. 9

The organization submitted a Form 990 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for 2007 and 2009-2019. The available information from 2007 and 2009 lists gross receipts of less than $25,000, while the reports from 2010-2019 list gross receipts of less than $50,000. The reports do not disclose any other financial information for the organization. 10


Judy Heumann, a civil rights advocate for people with disabilities, founded Disabled in Action in 1970. Heumann developed legislation that ultimately became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In former President Bill Clinton’s administration, Heumann served as Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services at the U.S. Department of Education and later served as the first Advisor on Disability and Development at the World Bank. 11

The organization is currently led by Jean Ryan who was named president of Disabled in Action in 2019. 12 Previously, Ryan worked as the organization’s vice president for public affairs. 13 Ryan also sits on the MTA Paratransit Advisory Committee. 14


  1. “About DIA.” DIA – NYC. Accessed November 5, 2020.
  2. “Judith Ellen Heumann.” Post Polio: Polio Place. Post-Polio Health International. Accessed November 11, 2020.
  3. Beder, Phil. “Judy Heumann.” DIA – NYC, August 29, 2020.
  4. Beder, Phil. “Judy Heumann.” DIA – NYC, August 29, 2020.
  5. Bowdish, Jean. “’Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution’ – a WW Movie Review.” Workers World, September 19, 2020.
  6. “The OneStep Campaign.” DIA – NYC. June 08, 2020. Accessed November 05, 2020.
  7. DIA-NYC. “Subway Access.” DIA – NYC, June 3, 2020.
  8. “NYPD Lawsuit.” DIA – NYC, June 8, 2020.
  9. Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York Inc, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2008, Part I
  10. “Disabled In Action Of Metropolitan New York Inc.” International Revenue Service. International Revenue Service. Accessed November 5, 2020.
  11. “Judith Heumann.” Disability Action Center, November 13, 2018.
  12. Beder, Phil. “End of Year Report.” The Largest Minority. December 15, 2018. Accessed November 05, 2020.
  13. “Passenger Spotlight: Jean Ryan Speaks About Accessible Dispatch.” Accessible Dispatch, March 7, 2018.
  14. “Paratransit Advisory Committee (PAC).” MTA. September 29, 2020. Accessed November 11, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1972

  • Available Filings

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York

    PO BOX 30954
    New York, NY 10011-0109