Film & Discussion: Lives Worth Living
A film by Eric Neudel
It's been 23 years since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Today, we take for granted the curb cuts that allow wheelchairs to roll, buses that lower to bring on the disabled, and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, among many other changes. The Act mandated all these accommodations-because before this, the disabled were on their own.
Lives Worth Living shows us the struggle for visibility and access by disabled people in the United States. The movement started here in Berkeley and spread across the country.
The film features Fred Fay, a quadriplegic who refused to live on the sidelines just because he couldn't walk, and Ed Roberts, who fought for access to UC Berkeley and started the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley-and the Ed Roberts Campus now commemorates his life's work.
Lives Worth Living is told as an oral history, using archival footage. We see protesters climb from wheelchairs and drag themselves courageously up courthouse steps; we watch as quadriplegic activists maneuver their chairs in front of public buses that are not equipped to accommodate them. The film ends with the dramatic battle for the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in America's history. The thousands of individuals who came together to change attitudes and laws demonstrated the power of humanity, cooperation, and self-determination, and what can be accomplished against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.