PIEDMONT -- For its second screening of the year, the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Film Series will show a documentary about the equal-rights struggle for disabled Americans.
"Lives Worth Living," a film by accomplished documentarian Eric Neudel, introduces viewers to two disabled men who helped galvanize a national effort to improve physical access for the disabled and eliminate workplace discrimination. The film aired on PBS in 2011.
The late Fred Fay, to whom the film is dedicated, and Berkeley's Ed Roberts provide a riveting oral history of the fight that led to the Rehabilitation Act in 1973 and ultimately the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990. The latter set new requirements on access for the disabled within public buildings, roadways and transportation. Roberts, who contracted polio in the 1950s and relied on a wheelchair and an iron lung, was initially denied entry into UC Berkeley, according to the film's website. But he challenged the decision, and it was overturned, sparking a group that eventually helped to form Berkeley's Center for Independent Living.
"So many things that are common now -- curb cuts, buses that can pick up people in wheelchairs, bathrooms and buildings that accommodate the disabled -- didn't exist before the 1990s," Diversity Film Committee member Anita Stapen said. "The film is eye-opening and engaging, showing us what it took for
disabled people to be taken seriously by the government on all levels, from local up to federal."
Fay became a quadriplegic after a spinal cord injury in his teens. He was the founder of Justice for All, a groundbreaking online listserv advocating for the rights of the disabled, and was a key inspiration in the creation of the ADA law.
The film committee will show "Lives Worth Living" on Wednesday in the Ellen Driscoll Theater at Havens Elementary School in Piedmont and again March 19 at the New Parkway theater.
Admission to both screenings will be free. The Wednesday event will include an hourlong discussion after the showing, and Stapen said she hopes a representative from the Center for Independent Living will be present to participate.
What: Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Film Series presentations of 'Lives Worth Living'
First screening: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Ellen Driscoll Theater, Havens Elementary School, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont
Second screening: 7:15 p.m. March 19 at the New Parkway theater, 474 24th St., Oakland