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Observing Ed Roberts Day on Sunday, January 23

Photo of Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts (January 23, 1939 - March 14, 1995) is widely considered the father of the independent living movement. As a teenager, Roberts survived polio, but the neurological effects were long lasting and he used a wheelchair to get around. His fight for independence began in high school, when officials wouldn't let him graduate because he was missing what the school considered a core class - - drivers education. He did not accept this and advocated until they agreed to let him graduate with his classmates. He advocated for suitable housing on the University of California Berkeley campus, for curb cuts on sidewalks, and for support from the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. These experiences shaped his values and future, leading to full-time advocacy and barrier removal for people with disabilities. (Follow this link to a YouTube clip about Ed Roberts.

Roberts and other students with disabilities attending UC Berkeley started the first center for independent living in 1972. His staff were people with disabilities helping others to advocate for themselves, for others, and in order to make the world a better place for all persons with disabilities to live.

Society's Assets is a center for independent living, founded in 1974 in Racine by Dan Johnson who became paralyzed from the neck down in 1963 as the result of a high school wrestling accident in Racine. Johnson, as an adult, led efforts to educate the community and to discuss accessibility, transportation, and long-term support services such as personal care that would allow people to live in their own homes.

Do you have a disability? Society's Assets can be your resource. For more information about programs or services, or to donate to our nonprofit agency, call 800-378-9128.