Back to the beginning – Ed Robert Campus in Berkeley

Recently I visited Berkeley, to see one of the birth places of the disability rights movement in the US. After contracting polio, Ed Robert’s doctor said that he would be “better off dead”. Rather than dying, Ed Roberts was a leader in what became the now global movement for independent living. Today the Ed Roberts Campus is a building that celebrates and continues his work.

Photo of red helical ramp linking two floors, lit by sunshine

Ed Roberts fought for curb-cuts in Berkeley.
Now we have a building with a helical ramp from first to second floor.
Someone put a video of going down the ramp in a wheelchair on youtube..

Seven organisations got together to create this building, which opened a few years ago. It’s a place that feels great to be in – partly because of the design, partly because of the history and partly because every other person is presenting some type of disability. The people that are here use it as their base to make the rest of society more disability friendly too.

Two images. The top has a wheel around which the text says "The Wheel is Turning". The bottom has a wheelchair user being picked up by a bird - "sometimes wheelchairs take flight".

The way Ingrid put it is that here it’s easy to be “out” as disabled. “I can get to work everyday,” she says, thanks to the integration with accessible public transport. In her previous workplaces her disability was visible, but she “tried to make it a non-issue”. Here you can openly show your disability and get the adjustments that you need.

A lady lies back on a man with a wheelchair - hearts are in the picture, and the text read "dance with me"

The images in this post are from the wonderful Disability Mural, paintings exploring being “out” as disabled people.

Two spindly hands intertwined. Text reads "a quiet strength".

For more on the history, this video on the “Power of 504” is a moving portrayal of one of the important political moments, when people with disabilities occupied a federal building to demand implementation of a non-discrimination clause.

Thanks very much to Susan and Ingrid at DREDF and other colleagues for welcoming me into the centre.

A motorized wheelchair speeds towards the edge of a red cliff-like shape.

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