Ed Roberts (activist)

Infobox Person
name = Edward Verne Roberts

image_size =
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birth_date = January 23, 1939
birth_place =
death_date = March 14, 1995
death_place =
education =
occupation = Disability rights activist
spouse =
parents =
children =

Edward Verne Roberts (January 23, 1939- March 14, 1995) was the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. He became one of the founders and one of the greatest leaders of the disability rights movement.


Early life

Ed Roberts contracted polio as an adolescent in 1953. For the first year of his illness, he spent all of his time in a hospital. Eventually he left the hospital, but had to spend vast expanses of time in an iron lung. For a while, he thought of himself as a "helpless cripple," but eventually he graduated from high school after he and his mother worked to have the physical education and drivers license requirements of graduation waived. He noticed the large amount of attention that his disability gained him, and decided to use this attention for positive purposes.


Ed Roberts is often called the father of the disability rights movement. His work began in a personal effort to go to college. He had to work hard, including suing the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation because they thought he was too disabled. It was a battle to get Berkeley to accept him, because, as a dean explained, "We've tried cripples before and it didn't work."

Instead of living in a dorm, the university housed him in the student infirmary, as it was the only room on campus with a floor that could support the weight of his iron lung. As other quads gained admission, and were also housed in the infirmary, they began to push for more rights on campus.

Roberts spearheaded the drive for such basic accommodations such as curb cuts at Berkeley. With the addition of five other severely-disabled students, who called themselves the "rolling quads," he lobbied for the creation for the first disabled students program at a university.

Their success on campus led to pursuit of access and rights in the community. This led to him becoming one of the founding members of and directors of the Center for Independent Living and World Institute on Disability.

He earned B.A. (1964) and M.A. (1966) degrees from UC Berkeley in Political Science. He became an official Ph.D. Candidate (C.Phil.) in political science at Berkeley in 1969, but did not complete his Ph.D. [ [http://cal.berkeley.edu @cal, great minds online | @Cal great minds online ] ]

Awards and Recognition

Ed Roberts received numerous awards for his activities. In 2008 ground will break for an multi-agency independent living center, to be known as the "Ed Roberts Campus".

ee also

*Independent Living
*List of disability rights activists


*Shapiro, Joseph P. "No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement". Random House, 1993.

External links

* [http://www.edrobertscampus.org/ Ed Roberts Campus]
* [http://www.wid.org/pages/WID_Info/ed%20roberts/er_03.html World Institute on Disability article by Joan Leon]
* [http://www.cilberkeley.org/ed.htm Ed Roberts tribute from the Center for Independent Living]
* [http://www.wid.org/pages/WID_Info/ed%20roberts/er_03.html A biographical article on Ed]
* [http://www.edrobertscampus.org/about/about_ed.html Another biographical article on ed]
* [http://www.smithsonianlegacies.si.edu/objectdescription.cfm?ID=127 The story about Ed's wheelchair being donated to the Smithsonian]

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