Late last month, disability activist Hale Zukas passed away from heart failure. Zukas traveled through life in a motorized wheelchair. He used a pointer attached to his helmet to operate his wheelchair and to spell words on a word/letter board. He frequently addressed government officials and other groups with a co-worker or personal assistant who translated his speech and supplemented it with reading from his letter/word board.”
In 2017, a documentary film about his life, aptly titled Hale premiered. The film’s creator, Brad Bailey made the documentary as his thesis project at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. He was recognized with a Student Academy Award for the project, joining some big names like Spike Lee and Robert Zemeckis.
His Berkeleyside Obituary adds: “An engineer at heart, Zukas designed the first curb cuts in Berkeley and convinced the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to become fully accessible. He co-founded the BART’s accessibility advisory group in 1975 and even designed the buttons for inside BART elevators so that they could easily be reached by wheelchair users.”