Many Mourn Ed Roberts, Disabled Rights Pioneer

Harmon Gym was filled Sunday, March 19, with hundreds of friends and supporters of Edward Roberts, the national advocate for disabled peoples' rights and the first student with significant disabilities to enroll at Berkeley.

Roberts died in his Berkeley home Tuesday, March 14, of natural causes. He was 56.

Hailed as the "father of disabled civil rights," Roberts had been a quadriplegic since being paralyzed by polio when he was 14.

Following his groundbreaking student career at Berkeley during the early 1960s, he led a group of severely disabled students to obtain a grant to establish what is now the Disabled Students Program on campus.

After receiving his bachelor and masters degrees in political science, Roberts helped establish the Center for Independent Living.

Until his death he was president of the World Institute on Disability. In 1974 he was appointed director of the state's Department of Rehabilitation.

"Mr. Roberts was truly a pioneer.... His vision and ability to bring people together should be an example for all Americans," said President Clinton in a message from the White House.

A memorial endowment fund is being established at the World Institute on Disability in cooperation with his family.

In addition, an Ed Roberts Memorial Scholarship to support severely disabled students at Berkeley has been established.

"The endowment fund's earnings will be used to continue his work and assure Ed's son Lee's education," said Ward New-meyer, the Americans With Disabilities Act compliance officer on the campus.

The World Institute on Disability is at 510 16th St., Oakland, 94612. Checks to the Ed Roberts Memorial Scholarship Fund can be sent to the Disabled Students Program, 230 Golden Bear Center, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720-4250.


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