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Independent Living

The philosophy

The Independent Living (IL) philosophy is very different from the traditional rehabilitation model. The goals for individuals with disabilities are empowerment and self-determination. The goals for communities are achieving equal access through reducing and removing barriers. The outcome we want is self-determination and full community participation for persons with all disabilities.

The traditional, medical model focuses on what is wrong with the person with a disability, and making efforts to “fix what is broken.” In our philosophy, a person with a disability is someone identified as having one or more impairment(s) who has limited choices regarding participation in community life. These choices are limited because of community barriers, low community- and self-expectations, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. Participation in community life includes getting an education, working, living independently, shopping, worshiping, using public transportation, and political activities. Societal barriers, not the disability itself, are the major reason many people with disabilities have problems living independently. Centers for Independent Living do not “rehabilitate” the person, but instead focus on reducing and removing the barriers that limit our choices.

What is independent living?

Independent Living…

  • is a way of life that includes values, attitudes and behaviors.
  • embraces a philosophy that the person, regardless of their disability, has the potential to exercise individual self-determination.
  • is having the right and the opportunity to pursue a course of action. And, it is having the freedom to fail -and to learn from one’s failures, just as non-disabled people do.
  • “means that we demand the same choices and control in our every-day lives that non-disabled brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends take for granted. We want to grow up in our families, go to the neighborhood school, use the same bus as our neighbors, work in jobs that are in line with our education and abilities, start families of our own. Just as everybody else, we need to be in charge of our lives, think and speak for ourselves.” – A. Ratzka

An advocate for the Independent living model, communityworks uses resources, programs, and waivers to make independent living a possibility for everyone regardless of age, or disability. Reintegration into the community is an important step in the recovery process, this allows a person to develop social capital through natural supports.

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