Edward Verne Roberts

Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts contracted polio at age 14 and was paralyzed from the neck down.

Requiring an iron lung or a respirator to breathe, he attended high school in California by telephone before attending in person in his senior year.

Early on, Roberts encountered obstacles as a result of his disability.

In 1962, after two years of attending a local college, he was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he worked with the university to develop the Physically Disabled Students Program, a program run by and for disabled students to provide wheelchair repair, attendant referral, peer counseling, and other services that would enable them to live in the community.

In 1972 Roberts and other members of the Physically Disabled Students Program came together in Berkeley to found the Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group that fought for changes that would give people with disabilities access to community life.

The group’s first success was its campaign to persuade the city of Berkeley to install curb cuts, permitting wheelchair access.

His example continues to inspire and motivate disability advocates everywhere.