MacArthur Fellows Program

Edward V. Roberts

Civil Rights Leader | Class of November 1984

Civil Rights Leader
Oakland, California
45 at time of award
March 14, 1995
Published November 1, 1984

About Edward's Work

Edward Roberts was a leader of the Independent Living/Civil Rights movement of people with disabilities.

In 1962, Roberts was the first person with severe disabilities (as a result of polio) to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he led a successful effort to make the university sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities.  In 1970, he co-founded and directed the Center for Independent Living, a model of advocacy and service programs. As director of the California Department of Rehabilitation from 1975-83, Roberts implemented disability rights on the state level and advocated their adoption on the national level.  In 1983 he co-founded and worked until his death with Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), for which he served as the first North American Chair.


Roberts was president of the World Institute on Disability (WID), a nonprofit organization, which he co-founded in 1983, dedicated to the promotion of independence and full inclusion in society of people with disabilities.  The first public policy center controlled by people with disabilities, WID is committed to public education and to converting policy into action.

Roberts received a B.A. (1964) and an M.A. (1966) from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Edward V. Roberts
More Fellows

View All 1984 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.

Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.

The privacy of your data is important to us. We've updated our privacy policies in response to General Data Protection Regulation.