Top 5 Reasons Why Ed Roberts is Extraordinary
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Top 5 Reasons Why Ed Roberts is Extraordinary

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Portrait of Ed Roberts smiling
Portrait of Ed Roberts smiling

Today, we celebrate Ed Roberts Day and reflect on the life and accomplishments of this extraordinary man. Ed Roberts, “The Father of Independent Living”, dedicated his life to ensuring that all people have access to an inclusive society. Even as a young man Ed Roberts was unstoppable, believing that he could make a mark on the world even after his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player were irrevocably changed by a polio diagnosis. Ed refused to let his physical barriers hold him back from contributing an everlasting imprint on the lives of individuals with disabilities.

This list highlights a few achievements of Ed’s vast influence over the Disability Civil Rights Movement that still lives on in the disability community to this day.

1.   VISION – Ed firmly believed youth with disabilities have undeniable talent and potential needed to make meaningful contributions to the American workforce.

2.   CHAMPION OF CHANGE – With the help of Ed and his colleagues, the first Center for Independent Living (CIL) was established.  The CIL provided a model for a new kind of community organization designed to address the needs and concerns of people with a wide range of disabilities.

3.   ACCESS – During college at UC Berkeley, Ed was determined to create equal access to technology, transportation, jobs, voting, housing, and inclusion in schools as well as every part of life for people with disabilities. In spite of his disability, he traversed the globe and sparked a world-wide movement, with and for individuals with disabilities.

4.   ADVOCACY – As an adult and activist, Ed Roberts dedicated his life to ensuring full participation in society for people with disabilities.

5.   INDEPENDENCE – “We have begun to ensure a future for ourselves, and a future for the millions of young people with disabilities, who I think will find a new world as they begin to grow up. Who may not have to suffer the kinds of discrimination we have suffered in our own lives. But that if they do suffer it, they’ll be strong and they’ll fight back. And that’s the greatest example, that we, who are considered the weakest, the most helpless people in our society, are the strongest, and will not tolerate segregation, will not tolerate a society which sees us as less than whole people. But that we will together, with our friends, will reshape the image that this society has of us. We are no longer asking for charity, we are demanding our rights.” – Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts is one of the most important pioneers of the disability rights movement. He was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and served as DOR’s Director from 1976 to 1983. We are proud to continue the advancement on employment for people with disabilities. To commemorate Ed Roberts Day the California Department of Rehabilitation, YO! Disabled & Proud, and the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers – CFILC are hosting a Twitter Chat on January 23rd @ 4pm PST. Join us as we discuss who Ed Roberts was and how his legacy lives on to this day!

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