Disabilities & Adulthood

Independent Living

The Independent Living Movement grew out of the Disability Rights Movement of the 1970’s, advocating for self-determination, self-respect, and equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Independent Living means being included fully in the community. The movement sought to end the “special but separate” mentality.

Centers for Independent Living (CILs)

Ed Roberts (1939-1995), known as “The Father of Independent Living,” founded the first CIL in 1972 in Berkeley, California. He fought throughout his life to enable all individuals with disabilities to fully participate in society. He organized a group, “The Rolling Quads,” to protest the inaccessible University of Berkeley campus. CILs are non-profit organizations that are places of action and coalition, where individuals with disabilities learn empowerment and develop the skills necessary to make lifestyle choices.

CILs provide services and advocacy to promote the leadership, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities. CILs work with both individuals, as well as with the local communities to remove barriers to independence and ensuring equality of persons with disabilities. A CIL’s core services are: advocacy, peer counseling, skills training, information, and referral.

CILs for Independent Living are created through the efforts of local individuals with disabilities, their family members, friends, and other interested persons. As individuals and advocates became organized, they began to assess the local needs, level of local interest and support for a CIL. Successful establishment of a CIL often depends on networking, personal involvement, coalition building, and a commitment to the empowerment of individuals with disabilities.

Useful Links

Federal Sites

Virginia Sites

Additional Resources

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