Every day, Google’s homepage features a new image related to important, date-specific topics! Today, January 23rd, it features Edward Veren Roberts, the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California Berkeley. Roberts was a pioneer of the disability rights movement, and he helped develop a philosophy that resulted in the development of a new discourse surrounding disability rights – one that centers on individual choice and the removal of systemic and social barriers that artificially exclude individuals with physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities. Roberts was also the Director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and the co-founder of the World Institute on Disability, a world-renowned disability activism organization.
Why is Ed Roberts’ Work So Significant?
Roberts’ philosophy centered on numerous central tenets, including self-representation, de-institutionalisation and the development of a movement that encompasses all types of disability. This philosophy advocates for removing the infrastructural, institutional and mindset-related barriers that exclude individuals with disabilities from social participation, and advocates for the adoption of Universal Design Principles to increase accessibility.
Roberts’ philosophical model became the basis for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) across the United States. These centers provide individuals with disabilities – including those with extensive developmental disabilities and those that require assistance with the tasks of daily living – with support to secure housing services, personal assistance referrals, attendant support, assistive technologies, and legal aid. They also work to support efforts in improving infrastructure, raising disability awareness and lobbying for legislation that prohibits discrimination and promotes equal opportunity.
Robert’s philosophy has spread internationally and has been adopted into many nations’ approach towards disabilities.
Why is Ed Roberts’ Work Important to Families of Kids with HIE?
Ed Roberts was one of the philosophical pioneers underpinning one of the largest and longest-running disability resource networks in the US. NCIL, founded in 1982, represents thousands of state-level SILCs that parents can turn to for resources, support, assistance and referrals to critical services for their children. As these children grow, they may require services and assistance to help them live their lives as fully as possible, and the services provided by these grant-supported centers can be one way to secure the support they need!