What are Centers for Independent Living?
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The Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council (Ohio SILC) stands in solidarity with our communities across Ohio that are experiencing inequity and injustice.

Every year in Washington DC members of Ohio’s disability community have marched with others from across the country to raise awareness of the issues that impact the disability community across the nation. This march is led by a banner quoting Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We stand with those speaking out against systemic discrimination, your voices are being heard. As an organization, we always look to support systemic advocacy that will lead to greater equality and inclusion. We know within every community, there are individuals with disabilities that are impacted. People of all backgrounds and ability deserve equality, and right now our communities of color are using their voices to bring about change for a stronger future.

January 23 is Ed Roberts Day: Celebrate!

Ed Roberts, in full Edward Verne Roberts, (born January 23, 1939, San Mateo, California, U.S.—died March 14, 1995, Berkeley), American disability rights activist who is considered the founder of the independent-living movement.

Roberts contracted polio at age 14 and was paralyzed from the neck down. Requiring an iron lung or a respirator to breathe, he attended high school in California by telephone before attending in person in his senior year. Early on, Roberts encountered obstacles as a result of his disability. Because he had not completed physical education and driver education courses, his high school refused to let him graduate, but the decision was reversed after his mother petitioned the school board for his diploma. In 1962, after two years of attending a local college, he was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, but the university, which had been unaware of his disability when he applied, refused to admit him on the grounds that his iron lung would not fit in a dormitory room. Roberts challenged the administration and ultimately was admitted. While at Berkeley, he worked with the university to develop the Physically Disabled Students Program, a program run by and for disabled students to provide wheelchair repair, attendant referral, peer counseling, and other services that would enable them to live in the community. Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1964 and a master’s degree in political science two years later.

In 1972 Roberts and other members of the Physically Disabled Students Program came together in Berkeley to found the Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group that fought for changes that would give people with disabilities access to community life. The group’s first success was its campaign to persuade the city of Berkeley to install curb cuts, permitting wheelchair access.

In 1976 Roberts was appointed director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, an agency that in 1962 had deemed Roberts too disabled to hold a job. As director, he facilitated the establishment of independent living centres throughout the state. He also traveled to lobby for disability rights in the United States and around the world. After his death, a centre for people with disabilities was created in Berkeley and named for him.

Contributor: Joan Leon
Title: Ed Roberts
Publisher: Encyclopædia Britannica
Date Published: March 10, 2020
Access Date: January 17, 2021

ILRU logoLearn more about independent living, home and community-based services, and the Americans with Disabilities Act on the ILRU website.

The ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) program is a national center for information, training, research, and technical assistance in independent living. Its goal is to expand the body of knowledge in independent living and to improve utilization of results of research programs and demonstration projects in this field. It is a program of TIRR Memorial Hermann, a nationally recognized medical rehabilitation facility for persons with disabilities.

Since ILRU was established in 1977, it has developed a variety of strategies for collecting, synthesizing, and disseminating information related to the field of independent living. ILRU staff–a majority of whom are people with disabilities–serve independent living centers, statewide independent living councils, state and federal rehabilitation agencies, consumer organizations, educational institutions, medical facilities, and other organizations involved in the field, both nationally and internationally.