What is Independent Living?
Most Americans take for granted opportunities they have — regarding living arrangements, employment situations, means of transportation, social and recreational activities, and other aspects of everyday life.
For many Americans with disabilities, however, barriers in their communities take away or severely limit their choices. These barriers may be obvious, such as lack ramped entrances for people who use wheelchairs, lack of interpreters or captioning for people with hearing impairments, lack of Braille or taped copies of printed material for people who have visual impairments. Other barriers — frequently less obvious — can be even more limiting to efforts on the part of people with disabilities to live independently, and they result from people misunderstandings and prejudices about disability. These barriers result in low expectations about things people with disabilities can achieve.
So, people with disabilities not only have to deal with the effects of their disabling conditions, but they also have to deal with both kinds of barriers. Otherwise, they are likely to be limited to a life of dependency and low personal satisfaction.
This need not occur. Millions of people all over America who experience disabilities have established lives of independence. They fulfill all kinds of roles in their communities, from employers and employees to marriage partners to parents to students to athletes to politicians to taxpayers — an unlimited list. In most cases, the barriers facing haven’t been removed, but these individuals have been successful in overcoming, or at least dealing, with them.
A Definition of Independent Living
What is independent living? Essentially, it is living just like everyone else — having opportunities to make decisions that affect one’s life, able to pursue activities of one’s own choosing — limited only in the same ways that one’s nondisabled neighbors are limited.
Independent living should not be defined in terms of living on one’s own, being employed in a job fitting one’s capabilities and interests, or having an active social life. These are aspects of living independently. Independent living has to do with self-determination. It 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 nondisabled people do.
There are, of course, individuals who have certain mental impairments which may affect their abilities to make complicated decisions or pursue complex activities. For these individuals, independent living means having every opportunity to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Independent living isn’t easy, and it can be risky. But millions of people with disabilities rate it higher than a life dependency and narrow opportunities and unfulfilled expectations.
Living in your Own Home
Receive assistance relocating from an institution into your own place. Get help learning about the things you will need to be successful – such as finding housing, setting up utilities, and arranging and getting support from others.
Nursing Home Diversion
Help prevent entering a nursing home by identifying problems that threaten your independence and solutions that work for you.
We invite you to fill out our application for services, and one of our staff members will follow up with you.