Center for Independent Living to open new store on Telegraph

The Center for Independent Living will celebrate the grand opening of its new redistribution store Friday.

The center, a 40-year-old organization run for the betterment of disabled individuals locally and nationally, will open a store that will repair wheelchairs and redistribute donated scooters and other technology devices to assist the elderly. Called The Shop @ CIL, it is located in the center’s former headquarters on Telegraph Avenue.

“There’s a real need for this type of service,” said Lauri Shay, the store’s manager. “There are a lot of people with disabilities in Berkeley, a lot of people who don’t have access to devices and equipment they need. This is an opportunity for us to give out equipment they need to live lives more independently.”

The grand opening — which will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. — will include a tour of the space, demonstrations of equipment and speeches by city leaders such as Mayor Tom Bates and disability awareness speaker Gary Karp.

“CIL has done so many good things — accessible housing, transportation, employment, preventing discrimination to disabled people — it’s a really incredible gem that we have here in Berkeley,” Bates said. “It’s terrific having another asset for disabled people, in this case getting wheelchairs and other apparatus they need repaired.”

Founded in 1972 by disabled UC Berkeley students, the center was born out of the independent living movement for disabled people in the 1960s and has since advocated for improvements in the city and across the state, according to the center’s website.

“(The center) is the model for hundreds of independent living centers throughout the U.S. and the world,” a statement on the center’s website reads. “And it is because of (the center), and organizations like it, that people with disabilities have a resource where they can learn the skills to make their own choices and fight for and achieve their civil rights.”

The center helped bring about curb cuts, the wheelchair accessible ramps in sidewalks, in Berkeley and organized the West Coast testimony to help pass the landmark American with Disabilities Act in 1990.

“CIL was at the forefront nationwide,” Bates said. “It’s one of the most important things that’s happened in Berkeley. CIL … changed the world for disabled people.”