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Happy 50th Anniversary to the Center for Independent Living Berkeley

October 6, 2022

The Center for Independent Living (CIL), Berkeley, CA, is celebrating its 50-year anniversary and we all should pause and reflect on this remarkable and impactful organization. I had the honor of meeting Ed Roberts, one of the founders of CIL, decades ago through Burns Vick, an advocate for disability rights and services and at the time, working with FCA on advocacy for adults with dementia and other adult-on cognitive impairments and unpaid family caregivers in CA. From that meeting, it was clear that we had much in common and would go further with mutual support.

As someone who grew up in the east bay (and close to Berkeley) during that era, the CIL advocates were noisy, relentless and in your face. These tactics served them well in the quest for equal access and rights for those with disabilities to live full lives. Sounds almost quaint now, but in the decades of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, those rights were not assured. CIL led the way for the passage of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, a giant step towards securing equal opportunities and rights for people with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act then paved the way for the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) to be passed in 1990.

Why is this important? Universal design, home modifications, equal access to employment, curb cuts, access to public buildings – all these hidden but important issues – are fundamental to “age-friendly communities”, “aging at home” and “age friendly health systems” movements across the country.

Take a minute to celebrate this remarkable history and check out the CIL website and their 50th Anniversary celebration on October 23.

And the next time you roll a wheelchair, luggage or stroller over a curb cut, give thanks to the noisy, in-your-face advocates who made all of our lives easier and accessible.