Today’s Google Doodle: Thanks, Ed

If you didn’t notice it, today’s Google Doodle caught my eye:

ed-roberts-google-doodle.png

I can’t say I was familiar with Ed Roberts before seeing this, but I’m glad to have read about him and I thank Google for increasing awareness. In brief, Roberts was an early activist for disability rights. After a polio infection led to nearly complete paralysis, he fought for the right to live a complete life when that wasn’t the norm. He even had to fight to attend UC Berkeley after a dean there said, “We’ve tried cripples before and it didn’t work.” (Ref: Wikipedia) That was around the early 1960s.

It’s easy to forget how much things have changed and how how far we’ve come in that time. And how much farther we have yet to go. I’m able to live a productive, full life as a researcher and surgical resident because people like Ed Roberts fought tooth and nail for basic rights, like functional student housing and the ability to attend the university to which he had already been admitted. He constantly tried to change the idea that a person with a disability couldn’t be an active, contributing member of society. And while many people no longer think that way, many others still do. I often feel that it is my obligation to help change people’s minds through my own example.

I’ll be speaking at the Fourth Annual Access in Health Science and Medicine Symposium in April. The symposium is focused on improving access to health science and medical education for students with disabilities. The fact that we’re even able to have such a focused discussion speaks volumes to how much people like Ed Roberts changed the world.

While we work to solve the challenges of today facing students with disabilities, it’s important to look back and remember the people who helped make these kinds of discussions possible.

Thanks, Ed.

 
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