Eric Dibner Papers

Guide written by Elizabeth Konzak .
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
© 2005
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Eric Dibner Papers

Collection number: BANC MSS 99/186 c

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
Guide written by Elizabeth Konzak
Date Completed:
July 2002
Encoded by:
James Lake
© 2005 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Eric Dibner Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1973-1991
Date (bulk): 1975-1985
Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/186 c
Creator: Dibner, Eric
Extent: Number of containers: 4 cartons Linear feet: 5
Repository: The Bancroft Library.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: The Eric Dibner Papers, 1973-1991 (bulk 1975-1985), document Dibner's work as an accessibility expert for persons with disabilities. Dibner was very active in the disability rights movement, and consulted for variety of institutions and organizations, including the University of California, Berkeley, the Center for Independent Living (CIL), and the California Association of the Physically Handicapped (CAPH). The collection, which includes notes, correspondence, meeting agendas, files, legal briefs, photographs, architectural plans, reports, and publications, also shows the development of architectural accessibility through the momentum of the disability rights movement.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English.
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Eric Dibner Papers, BANC MSS 99/186 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Related Collections

BANC MSS 2001/49 c, v. 3. Phonotape 3109 C: 1-29
Builders and sustainers of the Independent Living Movement in Berkeley: oral history transcripts. Vol. 3: Eric Dibner: Advocate and specialist in architectural accessibility; Hale Zukas: National disability activist, architectural and transit accessibility, personal assistance services. Interviews conducted by Kathy Cowan and Sharon Bonney, 1997-1998. Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. Transcript available through the Online Archive of California;
Additional related collections may be found by searching the corporate author/name "Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement collection" in U.C. Berkeley's online catalog.

Separated Material

Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Center for Independent Living.
University of California, Berkeley.
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (Calif.)
California Association of the Physically Handicapped.
Gray Panthers.
Barrier-free design--California--Berkeley.
Discrimination against people with disabilities--Law and legislation.
People with disabilities--California.
Barrier-free design.
Barrier-free design for students with disabilities.
Berkeley (Calif.)
People's Park (Berkeley, Calif.)
Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement collection.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Eric Dibner Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Eric Dibner in 1998.

Processing Information

Processed by Amber Smock; completed by Elizabeth Konzak.


Eric Dibner, born in 1947, enrolled in an architecture curriculum at University of California, Berkeley in 1965. After working at a construction company and an architect's office during the following summer, Dibner found that he did not enjoy drafting, preferring to think and theorize about design. While attending classes in the Fall of 1967, Dibner also began working part-time as an attendant for Scott Sorensen and John Hessler, disabled students in the Cowell Hospital Disabled Residence Program. In 1968, frustrated by his schoolwork and enthralled by the activity in Berkeley, Dibner dropped out of school and accompanied John Hessler to France to work as a live-in attendant while Hessler studied abroad.
In the fall of 1969, following his return to California, Dibner became a live-in attendant for Scott Sorensen in Berkeley. After Sorensen died a year later, Dibner worked for the University's Physically Disabled Students Program (PDSP) as a housing coordinator, also filling in for various other duties when needed. Because of his interest in architecture, Dibner became involved with the Coordinating Committee for the Removal of Architectural Barriers (CCRAB), working within the university to promote accessibility for the disabled. Dibner ascribed to the thought that people with disabilities know best what sort of accommodations work, and helped to test new accessibility measures with people from PDSP.
In 1972, Dibner began working for the Center for Independent Living (CIL), a Berkeley community organization for disabled self-help. He worked on a variety of access and housing issues for CIL including accessibility surveys of buildings and sidewalks. In 1974, Dibner worked as a live-in attendant for Hale Zukas, a leading advocate for barrier removal. Zukas became a mentor to Dibner on access issues, policy processes, and design development.
In 1975 Dibner conducted an accessibility survey of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), and also worked on campaigns and lawsuits to remove grocery store cart barriers that made stores inaccessible. Besides working on these and other public building accessibility initiatives, Dibner also coordinated CIL's move from their University Avenue offices to a new building on Telegraph Avenue. In 1978 and 1979 Dibner worked with the Disabled Law Resource Center of CIL to provide Section 504 compliance training as well as continuing education classes on accessability. Through his work experience Dibner became known as an accessability specialist, frequently working as a consultant and speaking at conferences.
By the early 1980's CIL had many important projects but very little funding, causing the staff to be overwhelmed and underpaid. After CIL administration tried to prevent a union from forming, the staff, including Dibner, went on strike. Disillusioned, Dibner resigned from CIL in 1982. He then worked for Access California, a municipal organization in Oakland, California, and spent much of his time surveying Oakland's street corners for accessability. Dibner was also very involved with the California Association of the Physically Handicapped (CAPH), serving on various housing and executive committees, and as East Bay chapter vice president and later, president, from 1983-1984.
In 1985, Dibner returned to Maine to be closer to his family. From 1986 to 1991, he worked as an accessability specialist for a number of groups, including the independent-living organization Alpha One and the Maine Association for Handicapped Persons (MAHP). He also consulted for the Transit Authority of South Portland in order to help tackle accessability issues on public buses. In 1991, Dibner moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and took a consulting job that focused on technology-related assistance, as part of a project undertaken by the Department of Rehabilitation. Later, he worked on access issues and building codes with the Governor's Committee on Advocating for Disabled Access. Dibner returned to California in the mid-1990's, and worked for the City of Berkeley as the Disability Compliance Coordinator from 1996-2001.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Eric Dibner Papers, 1973-1991 (bulk 1975-1985), document Dibner's work as an accessibility expert for people with disabilities. Dibner was very active in the disability rights movement, and consulted for variety of institutions and organizations, including the University of California, Berkeley, the Center for Independent Living (CIL), and the California Association of the Physically Handicapped (CAPH). The collection, which includes notes, correspondence, meeting agendas, files, legal briefs, photographs, architectural plans, reports, and publications, shows the development of architectural accessibility through the momentum of the disability rights movement.
The bulk of the material is from Dibner's work with CIL and various other housing and accessability organizations, including committees organized by the City of Berkeley, in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Although Dibner worked as an attendant for UC Berkeley students John Hessler, Scott Sorensen, and Hale Zukas, and was very active in the university's Physically Disabled Students Program (PDSP), there is no documentation of these activities in the collection. There are also very few records dated after Dibner's move to Maine in 1985.
The collection contains materials on a number of notable projects and events, including the surveying of public buildings and streets in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, and materials documenting an accessibility survey resulting in an access lawsuit against BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Also included are materials regarding campaigns and lawsuits for the removal of grocery store cart barriers, as well as documentation of protests against San Francisco Regency Theaters' ironically inaccessible screenings of Coming Home, a film about a disabled veteran.
Other San Francisco Bay Area related materials in the collection include files regarding Berkeley public space planning for areas such as the California School for the Deaf and Blind, the waterfront, and People's Park, as well as files concerning Berkeley housing and rent control.
Records from CIL, predominantly from the years 1975-1982, contain condensed reports on the internal workings of CIL, and include information on accessibility measures, as well as administrative, organizational, and committee files. The materials also include documentation and photographs of the CIL worker's strike in 1981-1982, and information on the Disability Support Service Workers Union.
Of particular interest to researchers may be CIL records, community group files, and materials regarding Berkeley-area public space planning, as well as the broad coverage of a number of disability rights and accessibility organizations.

Carton 1, Carton 2 folders 1-21, Oversize folder 1B

Series 1: Architectural and Transportation Barriers, 1973-1991, undated

Scope and Content Note


Arranged hierarchically and chronologically.
This series chronicles Eric Dibner's work on architectural and transportation barriers through notes, flyers, meeting minutes, correspondence, architectural sketches and blueprints, publications, and photographs. The materials cover a broad range of activism from general information to specific cases.
The series is divided into geographical sub-series: General, National, State of California, and San Francisco Bay Area. General includes Dibner's accessibility presentations, as well as general accessability clippings. National contains records on organizations such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. State of California consists of information on building standards, the Office of the State Architect, and the California Association of the Physically Handicapped (CAPH).
San Francisco Bay Area information is further divided into Bay Area subjects and cities. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) includes an access study as well as an accessibility lawsuit. Market Barriers contains documentation on the campaign and lawsuit against grocery store cart barrier gates. Berkeley materials include work with Grey Panthers housing committees, the Berkeley Housing Coalition, and the California School for the Blind and Deaf. University of California, Berkeley contains materials on campus access, the Coordinating Committee on the Removal of Architectural Barriers, and accessible housing. Oakland materials include complaints of accessability in Oakland restaurants, and files concerning the Oakland Housing Authority. San Francisco records consist of information on the protests against inaccessible screenings of Coming Home, a film about a disabled veteran, at the Regency Theaters, and also include a public buildings accessibility survey.

Subseries 1.1:  General, 1978-1991, undated

carton Carton 1, folder 1

Presentations and Programs 1978-1991, undated

carton Carton 1, folder 2

Disability Awareness flyers and clippings 1981, 1988-1989


Subseries 1.2:  National, 1978-1986

carton Carton 1, folder 3-4

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1980 1978-1983

oversize Oversize 1B

HUD Field Office jurisdictions 1979

carton Carton 1, folder 5-6

Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) 1980-1986

carton Carton 1, folder 7

National Center for a Barrier Free Environment 1980-1984


Subseries 1.3:  State of California, 1979-1985, undated

carton Carton 1, folder 8-9

California Association of the Physically Handicapped (CAPH) meeting materials 1982-1985

carton Carton 1, folder 10

Building Standards Commission 1979-1985

carton Carton 1, folder 11

Office of the State Architect 1980-1984

carton Carton 1, folder 12

Title 24 Revision of the Uniform Building Code 1983-1985

carton Carton 1, folder 13

Coalition for Strong Access Regulations 1983-1985

carton Carton 1, folder 14

California Access organizations brochures undated


Subseries 1.4:  San Francisco Bay Area, 1973-1985, undated


BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), 1983-1985, undated

carton Carton 1, folder 15

Ridership survey questionnaires undated

carton Carton 1, folder 16

Kathi Pugh, Steve Herber, and Katherine Corbett v. San Francisco Rapid Transit District 1983-1985

oversize Oversize 1B

Architectural modification drawing 1984


Market Barriers, 1976-1985, undated

carton Carton 1, folder 17-20

General 1976-1985

carton Carton 1, folder 21

Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley: Market Gates 1977

carton Carton 1, folder 22-23

Lawsuit Materials: City of Oakland v. Safeway Stores, Inc., Promarket Inc., P-X Market, Emby Foods, Inc., and Food Farm 1977-1985

oversize Oversize 1B

"Corral Those Carts!" [Lucky Store's Poster] undated

oversize Oversize 1B

Safeway Store's Gate drawing undated


Berkeley, 1973-1985

carton Carton 1, folder 24

Herrick Hospital expansion 1973-1975

carton Carton 1, folder 25

Gray Panthers Nursing Home Committee 1977-1979

carton Carton 2, folder 1-2

Gray Panthers Housing Committee 1978-1983

carton Carton 2, folder 3-4

Berkeley Housing Coalition 1979-1980

carton Carton 2, folder 5-7

California School for Deaf and Blind site 1979-1985

oversize Oversize 1B

California School for the Blind, Fremont 1981

carton Carton 2, folder 8

California School for Deaf/Blind site: Dwight/Derby section 8 housing study 1984

carton Carton 2, folder 9

University Avenue housing cooperative 1981


University of California, Berkeley, 1975-1985

carton Carton 2, folder 10

Architecture 202-135 course material 1975

carton Carton 2, folder 11

Physically Disabled Students Residence - Program brochures circa 1975-1980

carton Carton 2, folder 12-13

Coordinating Committee for the Removal of Architectural Barriers (CCRAB) 1977-1985

carton Carton 2, folder 14

Campus Access by Keith Wilson 1979

carton Carton 2, folder 15

University Student Co-op Association: Rochdale II 1979-1980


Oakland, 1975-1983


Accessibility complaints

carton Carton 2, folder 16

Jack London Village 1975-1982

carton Carton 2, folder 17

Keith Kellum correspondence 1976-1983

carton Carton 2, folder 18

Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) 1978-1979


San Francisco, 1978-1982

carton Carton 2, folder 19

Regency Theaters Protest 1978

carton Carton 2, folder 20-21

Public buildings access 1978-1982

oversize Oversize 1B

Ghirardelli Square Tour Guide Map marked with access barriers 1982

Carton 2, folders 22-24, Carton 3

Series 2: Center for Independent Living (CIL), 1973-1982, undated

Scope and Content Note


Arranged hierarchically and chronologically.
This series is divided into two sub-series: Administrative Records, and Reports and Publications. Administrative Records consist of general files, committee notes, grant funding information, and staff meeting minutes. The records also include papers and photographs that chronicle the CIL workers' strike in 1981-1982. Reports and Publications contain brochures and reports on the demand for rehabilitation services, as well as the 1975 State of the Art Conference. They also include a list of publications from 1980.

Subseries 2.1:  Administrative Records, 1973-1982, undated

carton Carton 2, folder 22

Housing 1973-1974

carton Carton 2, folder 23-24

General 1975-1977

carton Carton 3, folder 1-7

General 1978-1982, undated

carton Carton 3, folder 8

Staff meetings 1975-1976

carton Carton 3, folder 9-10

Organization files 1975-1982

carton Carton 3, folder 11-13

Community Development block grant 1976-1980

carton Carton 3, folder 14

Coordinating Committee 1976-1977

carton Carton 3, folder 15

Workers' Council 1979-1980

carton Carton 3, folder 16-17

Strike 1980-1982

carton Carton 3, folder 18

Disability Support Service Workers Union 1981-1982


Subseries 2.2:  Reports and Publications, 1973-1980, undated

carton Carton 3, folder 19

Brochures circa 1975-1985

carton Carton 3, folder 20

Estimating Demand for a Rehabilitation Services Facility 1973

carton Carton 3, folder 21

State of the Art Conference Papers and Report 1975-1976

carton Carton 3, folder 22

CIL Project Reports 1978, undated

carton Carton 3, folder 23

CIL List of Publications 1979-1980

carton Carton 3, folder 24-25

Alameda County Lawyers Committee for Disability Rights Training Manual, by CIL's Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund 1981

Carton 4, Oversize folders 1-2B

Series 3: City of Berkeley, 1976-1986, undated

Scope and Content Note


Arranged chronologically.
This series contains correspondence, notes, photographs, and printed materials about the City of Berkeley, including access violations, accessibility lawsuit materials, records from the Mayor's Task Force on the Disabled, architectural records denoting access renovations, and records of community committees. It also contains planning materials for People's Park and the Berkeley waterfront.
carton Carton 4, folder 1

Public works and codes inspection 1976-1981

carton Carton 4, folder 2

Daniel Drake v. City of Berkeley, George Pope, et al. 1977-1982

carton Carton 4, folder 3

Berkeley Unified School District 1978-1982

carton Carton 4, folder 4-5

City of Berkeley disability awareness 1978-1981

carton Carton 4, folder 6-7

Violations 1979-1985

carton Carton 4, folder 8

Waterfront planning 1977-1985

carton Carton 4, folder 9-13

People's Park 1979-1986

carton Carton 4, folder 14

Surveys of Berkeley public buildings 1980

carton Carton 4, folder 15-16

Mayor's Task Force on the Disabled report 1980-1983

carton Carton 4, folder 17

Post office 1980-1984

oversize Oversize 2B

Post office architectural drawing drafts 1977

carton Carton 4, folder 18

Berkeley YMCA: Advisory Health Committee 1982-1983

carton Carton 4, folder 19

Coalition to Stop Electroshock Treatment 1982-1984

carton Carton 4, folder 20

Committee for the Removal of Architectural Barriers (CRAB) 1984-1985

carton Carton 4, folder 21

Disability Awareness training course 1984

carton Carton 4, folder 22-24

Human Relations and Welfare Commission Subcommittee on the Disabled 1984-1985

oversize Oversize 1B

Architectural modifications plan of the Church of the Divinity School of the Pacific undated