The Disability Community Remembers Michael Winter

Michael Winter in the foreground on the right
The Disability Community recently lost a beloved leader in Michael Winter. These posts from Marca Bristo and the National Council on Independent Living remember and celebrate Winter’s life and leadership.

Note from Marca Bristo

Some sad news, long time disabilities rights leader Michael Winter passed away on July 11th.

He was my very first mentor on independent living. Max Starkloff and I visited CIL in Berkeley right when we got our seed grant from RSA to start our centers. He was our "tour guide". He helped in founding NCIL and took over as President when my term was up. He was a one of a kind guy. I will really miss him.

Many may remember him from ADAPT actions or from his10 years with the Department of Transportation playing an important role in local transit issues by helping to bring the pressure of the federal government on the local transit agencies.

Ill never forget being in Seoul riding the most accessible subway I've ever been on with my son. Later I asked my host from Rehabilitation international, Dr Il Yung Lee, how did it happen. He said, "CRPD and Michael Winter". Michael had been the consultant from DOT once they knew CRPD was going to be a reality.

NCIL will be honoring him at their annual meeting in DC next week.

One more reason to get the treaty ratified. Michael was really dedicated to it.

NCIL Remembers Michael Winter

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) takes pause today to remember the life of one of our own. Michael Winter, a leader in the Independent Living Movement, passed away July 11, leaving behind an exceptional memory of a person who was a genuine advocate, colleague, and dear friend.

Michael was the Executive Director of the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Berkeley, California for approximately 12 years, and also directed the CIL in Honolulu. He will also be remembered in the Independent Living community for his role serving as President of the NCIL Board from 1989-1991.

The cause of accessible transportation was a running theme throughout his career. Michael was a long-time employee of the Department of Transportation, where he worked on civil rights issues as they pertained to the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and environmental justice. Michael Winter was also featured in Eric Nuedel’s award winning documentary Lives Worth Living, which focused on the creation of the Disability Rights Movement in the United States after WWII.

Michael Winter was a well-known and loved member of the NCIL family, and as advocates gather in Washington, DC in the coming weeks we will honor his legacy and friendship at the 2013 NCIL Conference.


  1. Patrick Reilly Michael will be greatly missed. I am delighted to have been his friend. I always enjoyed hearing his perspective. To his family, you will be in my prayers. His spirit will live on in many.
  2. Melissa Birch I knew Michael since the early 1980s in Berkeley. I was introduced to him through my late husband. He was a unique,unforgettable person, and I and my family will miss him. My condolences to his wife and son.
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