Monday, December 30, 2013

New children’s book tells story of father of disability rights Ed Roberts


Ed Roberts was an active boy who loved playing football and baseball at the park across from his house. But in 1953, everything changed: He contracted polio and couldn’t even breathe on his own, much less walk or run. This new children’s book profiles the courageous young quadriplegic, who would go on to fight for his own rights and the rights of all people with disabilities – a legacy that continues today.

“Ed Roberts: Father of Disability Rights” delves into Roberts’ life, detailing his early days in an iron lung and learning his lessons via the phone, battling school officials about high school graduation and becoming the first person with significant disabilities to attend the University of California at Berkley. Inspired by the civil rights and liberation movements, Roberts fought for equality for people with disabilities. As director of California’s Department of Rehabilitation and sit-ins in San Francisco, he helped bring change that let people live more independent lives, paving the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws promoting equal access. The World Institute on Disability, which Roberts co-founded, helps people around the world.

An illustration symbolism guide details the meanings of symbol-rich drawings by Patrick Wm. Connally. The symbols -- unique to Roberts and the disability civil rights movement – portray information via their colorful graphics. For instance, the boy peeking out of the drawing on Page 23 represents Roberts’ son. Readers are invited to find other symbols in the book as well.

Author Diana Pastora Carson, who has a master’s degree in education, is an elementary teacher, disability rights advocate and a consultant and speaker who specializes in inclusion and diversity as it relates to disability. Her inspiration is the experiences of her brother, who grew up being misjudged and excluded. Carson has taught disability studies courses through the San Diego State University Foundation and served on the board of directors for Disability Rights California. Her other books include “Foundations for Ability Awareness” and “Ability Awareness in Action: Teaching Ability Awareness to Children and Youth.”

In addition to his art, illustrator Patrick Wm. Connally is a civil rights advocate, consultant on access and disability rights, a family caregiver and co-host and producer of a radio program featuring disability issues. He is founder and president of Disability Rights Enforcement Education Services and has served on government and nonprofit boards and committees such as Disability Rights California, World Institute on Disability, and Research and Training Center on Personal Assistance Services. His artwork has helped raise money for animal rescue projects and promoted world-class museum events.
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