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Show Notes: Ed Roberts and the Independent Living Movement

Tracy Wilson

Activists take over a federal building in 1977 to protest a years-long delay in implementing anti-discrimination policies for people with disabilities. Inset: Ed Roberts using his iron lung. Primary image:  John Prieto/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Inset: Bettman/Corbis
Activists take over a federal building in 1977 to protest a years-long delay in implementing anti-discrimination policies for people with disabilities. Inset: Ed Roberts using his iron lung. Primary image: John Prieto/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Inset: Bettman/Corbis

Ed Roberts became paralyzed from the neck down after contracting polio as a teenager. When he tried to transfer to the University of California at Berkeley, a counselor at the state's Department of Rehabilitation turned down his request for assistance on the grounds that he was unemployable. Roberts went on to serve as director of that same agency for 9 years, and today he's known as the father of the Independent Living movement.

Thanks to the efforts of oral historians and documentarians, there are several online collections about Ed Roberts and the Independent Living movement. The Minnesota Department of Administration Council on Developmental Disabilities has a history of developmental disability, including a segment on the Independent Living movement and a collection on Ed Roberts. U.C. Berkeley's website on the Independent Living movement also includes a collection on Ed Roberts.

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Episode link: Ed Roberts and the Independent Living Movement

Transcript: Ed Roberts and the Independent Living Movement

My research:

  • Berkeley Disabled Students Program. http://dsp.berkeley.edu/about
  • Dawson, Victoria. "Ed Roberts' Wheelchair Records a Story of Obstacles Overcome." Smithsonian Magazine. 3/13/2015. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ed-roberts-wheelchair-records-story-obstacles-overcome-180954531/#v8aboYPAjq6sCSCK.99
  • Edward V. Roberts, Oral History Interview, Conducted 1994 by Susan O'Hara, Regional Oral History Office, University of California at Berkeley, for the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program. http://archives.cdn.sos.ca.gov/oral-history/pdf/roberts.pdf
  • Ingram, Patricia. "We Won't Go Away." Via Minnesota Department of Administration Council on Developmental Disabilities. Narrated by Rosalie Wilkins. http://mn.gov/mnddc/ed-roberts/wontgoaway1.html and http://mn.gov/mnddc/ed-roberts/wontgoaway2.html
  • Leon, Joan. "Ed Roberts." Encyclopedia Britannica. 5/26/2016. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ed-Roberts
  • Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. "Ed Roberts: The Birth of the Independent Living Movement." Minnesota Department of Administration Council on Developmental Disabilities. http://mn.gov/mnddc//parallels/six/6b/1.html
  • MN Department of Administration Council on Developmental Disabilities on Ed Roberts http://mn.gov/mnddc/ed-roberts/
  • Reasoner, Harry. 60 Minutes. Via Minnesota Department of Administration Council on Developmental Disabilities. http://mn.gov/mnddc/ed-roberts/sixtyMinutes.html
  • Shapiro, Joseph P. "No Pity." New York. Three Rivers Press. 1993.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History. "The Iron Lung and Other Equipment." Whatever Happened to Polio? http://amhistory.si.edu/polio/howpolio/ironlung.htm
  • World Heath Organization. "Poliomyelitis." http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs114/en/