Disabled In Action was organized in 1970 by disabled activists who attended Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, in New York City. One of those activists was Judy Heumann who later rose to prominence in the wider disability rights movement and who died in 2023. She had wanted to be a teacher and was refused because she used a wheelchair. She sued and won the right to teach. Her lawsuit and the publicity it received served as the impetus for founding DIA.
Judy gave an interview about independent living, in which she discussed the beginnings of DIA.