Independent Living

Young man in an apron and glasses picks up a cup in a restaurant next to a woman in an apron with grey hair.

What is Independent Living?

Independent Living is both a cultural movement and a program. It is a way of looking at disability that puts the individual first and the disability second. The Independent Living Community works toward equal opportunity for people with disabilities to share in all the benefits of society.

What is an Independent Living Center?

An Independent Living Center (ILC) serves people of all ages with any kind of disability. ILCs are designed and operated by people with disabilities in response to local needs.

What is Independent Living Philosophy?

Independent Living is a way of thinking about people with disabilities. It says that people with disabilities know best how to take care of themselves. They are able to make important decisions that affect their lives, have relationships with whom they choose and have access to all the benefits of society that non-disabled people do. Independent Living means that people with disabilities have the right to live as independently as they choose. If a person with a disability wants to ask for help, they can. But the kind of help they ask for and who they ask is up to them. This way of thinking is often described as "self-determination".

People with disabilities are people first and entitled to the same respect that non-disabled people are. The Independent Living Movement uses people-first language, such as "people with disabilities" instead of "disabled people". This shows that the person is most important, not the disability.

Services

  • Information and Referral (I&R) - I&R is the art, science and practice of bringing people and services together. If individuals or families don't know where to turn, or need more information, I&R can help connect them with the information, tools, and resources they need.

  • Advocacy - ILCs teach advocacy skills. Advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning how to get information so that you can understand things that are of interest to you, finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities, problem solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and learning about self-determination. ILCs may also help by advocating for curb cuts, street crossings, buildings or anything else that will help all people have equal access to society.

  • Independent Living - Independent Living services are any skills that can help a person with a disability do what they want to do on their own. Things like budgeting, learning to use public transportation, learning how to shop for healthy foods and learning social skills can all be part of independent living training.

  • Peer Counseling - People with disabilities know best how to take care of themselves. Peer counselors are people with disabilities who can help guide other people with disabilities and who help them reach their goals.

  • Transition and Diversion - People with disabilities have the right to live in the least restrictive environment of their choice. Transition services can help the person learn the steps they need to take and to get the resources they need to move from one way of life to another. ILCs can assist people with disabilities in moving out of institutions (like hospitals or nursing homes), in changing from one situation to another (like leaving high school and starting college) or helping to prevent them from having to leave their home due to a disability.

  • Personal Assistance Services - Personal Assistants can help with a variety of needs for some people with disabilities. Hiring, training, managing, and firing Personal Assistants is something that people who use them need to learn how to do. ILCs offer training on this subject.

  • Housing - Some people with disabilities may require places to live that are accessible to wheelchairs or other assistive technology. They may need help finding places to live that are affordable on a fixed income or to find out if they are able to get financial benefits.

  • Assistive Technology - ILCs can provide training on a variety of devices, tools, or services used to make life easier.

Resources