The modern history of civil rights for people with disabilities is four decades old. Many individuals successfully advocated self determination for the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities. The following are a just a few of the leaders in the Independent Living Movement.

Ed Roberts, “Father of Independent Living” also founded the World Institute on Disability in 1983 with Judy Heumann and Joan Leon.  After Ed Roberts’ death in 1995, Joan Leon worked collaboratively with others to develop the Ed Roberts Center in Berkeley, CA as a suitable memorial to his life and work.  Ed Roberts believed in the strength of collaborative efforts.  He called it “working toward our preferred future.”

Max Starkloff, Charlie Carr, and Marca Bristo founded the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) in 1980. NCIL is one of only a few organizations on the national level that is consumer-controlled and promotes the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities.

Justin Dart played a prominent role in the fight for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and was seen by many as the spiritual leader of the movement. Lex Frieden is co-founder of ILRU Program. As director of the National Council on Disability, he directed preparation of the original ADA legislation and its introduction in Congress.

Liz Savage and Pat Wright are considered the “mothers of the ADA.” They led the consumer fight for the passage of the ADA.

There are countless other people who made and continue to make substantial contributions to the independent living movement.