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Ed Roberts Day

21 Jan 2022 3:02 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

Ed Roberts Day – Jan 23rdBlack and white photo of Ed Roberts with his breathing tube bit between his teeth

  • Known and widely recognized as being the father of the Independent Living and Disability Rights Movement.
  • Contracted polio at age 14 and became paralyzed from the neck down
  • Became the first student with severe physical disabilities to be admitted into the University of California, Berkeley
  • Forced to live in hospital wing as a student at UC Berkeley because they didn’t have housing to accommodate for his power chair & Iron Lung.
  • Led student advocacy group of students with disabilities, which became known as “rolling quads”.
Ø Here he founded the First disability-led student organization in the United States.
Ø They provided disability services, such as transportation, personal aides, wheelchair repair, and advocated for greater physical access to their campus, including taking sledgehammers to curbs in order to create curb cuts. 
  • After college, he co-founded the Center for Independent Living, a non-profit advocacy group run by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.
Ø It started with a staff of just two people. “We know that even the most severely disabled folks can live in the community, and it’s up to us – those of us who are lucky enough to be out and who feel the power of the process. Because every time we reach out to help someone else we empower them for ourselves,” he said. (https://www.accessliving.org/newsroom/blog/ed-roberts-a-pioneer-for-equality/)
Ø Passed away March 14th, 1995.
Ø His power chair has been on display at the Smithsonian asEd Roberts in his power whelchair and a woman standing beside him part of the collection of the National Museum of American History.
More information and videos on this pivotal icon of the Independent Living 
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