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Our History

The Center for Independent Living, Inc. emerged from the independent living movement of the 1960s as a powerful social catalyst on the University of California at Berkeley campus. There, Ed Roberts, Hale Zukas, and Jan McEwan Brown joined forces to lead a movement that made the university's entire academic and social life accessible to all. In 1972, these students and community members joined to form The Center for Independent Living, Inc.


From 1975 to 2011, CIL's headquarters was near the UC Berkeley campus on 2539 Telegraph Avenue. There, we provided services for people with disabilities that included wheelchair repair, assistance finding accessible and affordable housing, and vocational training. CIL also hosted the first national conference on independent living in 1975. Our peer-based services were so successful that today CIL serves as a model for roughly 400 independent living centers nationwide and similar programs in 20 countries.

Learn more about CIL, our offices, and general disability rights history in Berkeley by clicking here to download a timeline. You can also read more about us on the Independent Living Institute's website by clicking here.

Photo of two people carrying a CIL banner.

CIL staffers carry a banner reading "Center for Independent Living Berkeley" through the streets of San Francisco.

Ed Roberts and CIL group photo.

Ed Roberts and the CIL team at the original Center for Independent Living office on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California.

Photo of the first CIL building.

The first Center for Independent Living Office. Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California.

Photo Credit: Ken Stein

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