The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Promoting Independence, Productivity, Self-Determination, Integration and Inclusion
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A Day in the Life of Ed Roberts

Lee Roberts talks about his father, Ed Roberts

My Dad

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Lee Roberts: This is a... This is a... It's an interesting one, but what it's like to have a father in a wheelchair for me is... is I can... I can say it's that he... Being raised by a father in a wheelchair has basically taken that whole aspect of even the question out for me. Because I just see him as my father. I was raised in a situation where the wheelchair, the iron lung, the five hours to get up in the morning, that was just our everyday life. That was our routine. Kind of like any other father raising his child, teaching him to swing a bat or how my... how every father got up in the morning. The wheelchair was just an... something that was normal for me. It was something that I could ride on. It was something that breathed out of a respirator. It had a hose to it, but that's how my father breathed. I'm trying to say that, it was normal, and that's because I had it on an everyday level. And the extremes of what people told me it was, was the only sort of distinction that I had, because as his son and as being raised on that everyday, there wasn't anything different about it. It was just my dad.

Now, as far as the influence that my father had on others to allow them the accessibility that he was fighting for the entire time, that was his work. And as his son, I mean I got to be a part of it to when he would give speeches, I would tell some stories, and they would usually involve my father and us traveling around and a couple of access difficulties if we couldn't find a curb cut. Most people would just step up on the step. If you couldn't find a curb cut, sometimes it would take us an hour to find it. I couldn't lift his 700-pound chair. We needed a curb cut or we needed some type of access or we weren't getting to where we needed to go. So for me, it was the stories. Stories of my father.

And then the slowly development of his peers and the people around him and how his vision was slowly being implemented. And before you knew it, there was more and more people conveying to me what type of an influence he was having on the movement as a whole, as a leader. So it was pretty cool as a kid.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.