"Soon after that, a few of us decided to try and replicate our vision of what the PDSP was for the community. We had a shoestring budget and a hole-in-the-wall office, but it was enough. My friend John Hessler from PDSP was in France, and I wrote to him to invite him back to help us get the Berkeley Center For Independent Living (CIL) started, and he did. The title was a revolutionary concept at the time. Most people never thought of independence as a possibility when they thought of us. But we knew what we wanted, and we set up the CIL to provide the vision and resources to get people out into the community.
"The Berkeley CIL was also revolutionary as a model for advocacy based organizations; no longer would we tolerate being spoken for. Our laws said that at least 51% of the staff and Board had to be people with disabilities, or it would be the same old oppression. We also saw the CIL as a model for joining all the splintered factions of different disability organizations. All types of people used and worked in our Center. This was the vision we had for the future of the movement.
"We secured the first curb cut in the country, at the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph Avenue. When we first talked to legislators about the issue, they told us, 'Curb cuts, why do you need curb cuts? We never see people with disabilities out on the streets. Who is going to use them?' They didn't understand that their reasoning was circular. When curb cuts were put in, they d