Google celebrated what would have been the 78th birthday of disability rights activities Ed Roberts on Monday with a new doodle. The artwork depicts the late activist giving a lecture.
Roberts contracted polio at the age of 14 and was a paralyzed from the neck down. For the next 43 years, he used a wheelchair and had to sleep in an 800-pound iron lung at night. The activist, however, didn’t let his disability stop him from pursuing dreams such as earning a college degree. Roberts became the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where he helped others by creating the Physically Disabled Students Program.
Roberts earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Berkeley, and later came back to head up the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, which “inspired many similar centers around the US,” Google noted in a biography of Roberts. “In 1976, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and in 1983 he co-founded the World Institute on Disability.”
Roberts died on March 14, 1995. He was 56 years old.
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