Disability Rights Pioneer

Anthony Tusler Honored in Two Bay Area Exhibits
November 10, 2015
tusler exhibit poster

The founder of Sonoma State University's Disability Resource Center, Anthony Tusler, has fought for the rights of disabled Americans for more than 40 years and is now being recognized for his efforts in a pair of Bay Area exhibits.

Patient No More: People With Disabilities Securing Civil Rights" runs through Dec. 18 at the Berkeley Ed Roberts Campus, a nonprofit that houses several disability resource organizations. "Nothing About Us, Without Us: 25th Anniversary of the ADA" runs through Feb. 12 at the Doe Library at UC Berkeley. Both exhibits coincide with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Photographs, papers and articles documenting Tusler's work in the disability rights movement have already been archived separately at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library as part of its Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement archive. "It's humbling to be a part of Bancroft Library's collection," said Tusler. "And to think our fight for civil rights joins the papers of Mark Twain, and the nugget that launched the Gold Rush."

Tusler founded Sonoma State's Disability Resource Center in 1975. In the height of the disabled rights movement in April 1977, he photographed a 26-day sit-in protest outside the Federal Building in San Francisco, which served as a turning point in civil rights for disabled Americans across the nation.

Tusler went on to serve as the director of Sonoma State's Disability Resource Center for 22 years, where he fought for things like priority registration for disabled students and accessible parking spaces on campus. In his first few years as the center's director, Tusler also raised funds to teach a disability studies course, where students learned about the psychology of disability.

Tusler later launched multiple nonprofit organizations like the Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability; Community Resources for Independence; Disability Associates; and the National Center on Disability and Journalism.