There are many different types of organizations that serve people with disabilities: state vocational rehabilitation agencies, group homes, rehabilitation hospitals, senior centers, and home health agencies, to name a few. These organizations provide valuable services and are important links in the network of services that help people with disabilities maintain independent lifestyles.
What makes centers for independent living very different from these other organizations?
In a center for independent living, people with disabilities have substantial involvement in making policy decisions and delivering services.
Why this emphasis on control by people with disabilities? The basic idea behind independent living is that the ones who know best what services people with disabilities need in order to live independently are people with disabilities themselves.
Independent living centers are typically non-residential, private, non-profit, consumer-controlled, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for persons with all types of disabilities. Their goal is to assist individuals with disabilities in achieving their maximum potential within their families and communities.
Independent living centers also serve as a strong advocacy voice on a wide range of national, state and local issues. They work to assure physical and programmatic access to housing, employment, transportation, communities, recreational facilities, and health and social issues. These are just a few of the services offered.
Other Centers in the United States
There are nearly 500 centers for independent living in the United States. Many are federally funded and some are state supported.