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Famous for pushing Berkeley to install the country’s first curb cut, the center has also broken ground with its peer counseling program and now helps around 1,000 people per year.
“The ‘solution’ for most of us, if we hadn’t been fairly strong people and in a place like Berkeley, is that we would have been warehoused away in some institution,” Edward V. Roberts, a quadriplegic, told The Berkeley Daily Gazette in 1974. “Our society isn’t given to helping blind and disabled people to be more independent.”
Roberts, who in 1962 had been the first severely disabled student to attend UC Berkeley, was executive director of the newly formed Center for Independent Living in Berkeley.
This year the center celebrates its 50th anniversary as the birthplace of the modern independent living movement, which championed the right of people with disabilities to lead independent lives.
“Our mission is to offer services and advocacy for people with disabilities to live independently in the community and away from institutions,” said Ted Jackson, who took the helm as the CIL’s executive director in March. “We do that by providing everything from skills and travel training to advocacy and working to change policy — anything that helps a disabled person be independent.”