Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Richard Gould

Audio transcript: On the evolution of the philosophy of the Boston Center for Independent Living
Date: August 27, 2001
Interviewer: Fred Pelka

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

Were you aware of, during your time there, of a sort of evolution of the philosophy of BCIL?

Oh, yes.

Okay. Maybe you could talk a little about that. What was that process?

Well, initially, you know, as Fred used to expound on it was, you know, everyone was going to live—should their goal be to live independently in the community? And that you could really do this pretty much even without nighttime attendants and the like. My view was really quite different, though I certainly adhered to that for a while. I lived alone for a period of time—almost killed myself doing it, but—. You know, I did it because I kind of bought into this system. But then I began to think about it more, and I, and other people—you know, we talked about it. It wasn't just my ideas, but—. It was more of a notion of interdependence. Why should folks with disabilities be the only people who have to be totally independent? You know, not have anybody else that you're dependent on or that are dependent on you—no one lives that way. It was abnormal and so forth.

So then we started working on interdependence—that you live, you know, to whatever level of independence is comfortable to you, and that you can achieve, with whatever level of support you need. And that's how I view the PCA program—that if you have PCAs working for you, it only works as long as it's beneficial for both of you. You know, once you demand more, then you're giving—then they're going to take off. It's not going to work. I just think that's part of the negotiations of life in general. So that—I think that was one of the things that changed over time. We got less rigid, more flexible in how we—what we sort of were demanding of people to do if they wanted to live in the community. And as a result, it sort of opened the doors to different kinds of lifestyles instead of a—you know, what we thought should be. And I talked to Ed Roberts years ago, and that was never his notion anyway. You know, we thought, you know, we were following some edict from on high from Ed Roberts. When I spoke to him later, that was not what he had in mind in the first place.

End of transcript

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