Hale Zukas, 73, has had cerebral palsy since birth. A student at UC Berkeley during the height of '60s activism, Zukas became one of the founders of the disability rights movement. Much of the urban accessibility that we now take for granted, such as public transportation ramps and sidewalk dips, are a direct result of his efforts. He was one of the founding members of The Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, the first organization of its kind to provide advocacy and opportunity for people with disabilities.
Hale chronicles Hale Zukas' battle towards empowerment and explores how his work has impacted the lives of disabled people worldwide. The disabled rights movement is a story that has often been a footnote when examining civil rights groups of the 1960s. This film seeks to change that.
"I first met Hale Zukas one day when he came to the Journalism School to attend a film screening. He has been a Berkeley institution for decades. It’s common in the city to see him zooming through the streets, in his wheelchair, on his way to an activity or meeting. When I got to know him, I found out about his remarkable history and one day I ran across a plaque in his honor at the Ashby Rail Station in Berkeley, California. I then realized that Hale had been a crucial link in a movement, started in Berkeley in the 1970s, that is responsible for changing how the world looks at the issue of disability. Many things that we take for granted today- from curb cuts to ramps, and laws protecting disability rights all started from the early work of Hale and others here in Berkeley in the 1970s. Further, Hale is still advocating for disability rights through policy while advising San Francisco Bay Area leaders on accessibility. He is also a living embodiment of independent living. In the film, we chronicle the range of daily activities he undergoes, from comedy shows to movies, despite tremendous challenges. In the film, I speak with Zona Roberts, the 97-year-old mother of disability icon Ed Roberts and Judy Heumann, who was appointed by President Clinton and President Obama to lead disability and Special Education issues throughout the nation. In addition, I speak to two former Mayors of Berkeley about the impact Hale has had on the region and the world." — Brad Bailey, Director.