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Ed Roberts Father of Disability Rights

Ed Roberts: Father of Disability Rights written by Diana Pastora Carson and illustrated by Patrick Wm. Connally tells the inspirational story of Ed Roberts, the man who changed the life of people with disabilities. As a young child, Ed was a typical child that could run and play with all of the other children. He loved organizing football and baseball games at the park and was exceptional at sports. In 1953, he got sick with Polio that took his ability to walk, run and play like he had before. It even took his ability to breathe independently. With these disabilities, other people thought Ed would be a “vegetable” because of his disabilities. After spending more than a year in the hospital, Ed finally returned home and dedicated himself to finishing his high school education. He did this via participating over the phone. In his last year of high school, he was able to return to high school with the assistance of his wheelchair. Although Ed struggled with his health, it was the unfair treatment from others that made it hardest for him. Specifically from the principal at his school who refused to graduate him without drivers and physical education, which were required classes. Ed’s mother fought and won his right to graduate. Everyone thought that his education would end there. Ed fought for funding to attend college and received the tuition he needed to study at the University of California. Due to the college’s lack of accessible places to live for people with disabilities, Ed lived at the hospital during his entire life on campus. At Berkeley, Ed studied politics and the civil rights of other minorities such as women and African Americans. He learned about discrimination so that he could fight for people with disabilities to get the same rights as others.

What did Ed fight for? He wanted more independence by having more accessibility such as in schools, houses, stores and other buildings. People with disabilities needed curb cuts, wheelchair ramps, bathrooms that were wider with handrails, money to pay assistants to help and public transportation with lifts for wheelchairs. In 1975, he was appointed the director of the Department of Rehabilitation where he made significant changes for people with disabilities including physical disabilities, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities and mental health disabilities. Some of his other great accomplishment included participation in the San Francisco Sit in and co founder of the World Institute on Disability.

To learn more about Ed Roberts and his accomplishments, check out this informative article on Smithsonian.com here.

Ed Roberts Father of Disability Rights is an important book to share with children to explain that the rights of people with disabilities wasn’t just handed to them, it was fought for. To this day, we need to continue to fight for rights of individuals with disabilities because discrimination still exists. As a speech language pathologist who has been in the field for over 15 years, I continue to fight for the rights of individuals to communicate and get the services that they need to be independent and functional in their community. By raising awareness of disability rights to our children with a book such Ed Roberts Father of Disability Rights we can raise children that will continue to support and advocate for the rights of those with all different disabilities. This book is an inspirational book because it was written by an author and illustrator that are disability advocates themselves so the story is told with passion and can help to educate others about Ed Roberts accomplishments.

Ed Roberts: Father of Disability Rights

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