What is The Independent Living Philosophy?
Independent Living is a philosophy, a way of viewing oneself and a way of society viewing people with disabilities. It is a matter of perception. When individuals with disabilities have control over the decision making process and the services that enable them to participate in all aspects of society – this is the new perspective.
Independent Living Centres provide a focal point in communities that facilitate this new perspective on disability. The disability is not the problem, rather the disabling conditions in society are. When barriers are removed, individuals with disabilities have greater choice and control over the supports that they need and the resources to fully participate in reducing barriers to mainstream society.
Independent Living as as defined by people with disabilities does not mean doing things for yourself, or living on your own. It means having choice and control. It means having access to housing, transport, health services, employment,entertainment, education and training.
Consumer Control: Respects the rights of people to make choices and direct the delivery of programs while governing the services.
Disabilty: Represents, includes and responds to the needs of individuals with any type of disability.
Community Based: Responds to the needs of the community and fosters partnerships with other agencies.
Promotion of Integration: Supports people with disabilities to participate in community life.
Independent Living Resource Centres mandates are to empower people with disabilities by providing information, leading to options, individual control over decision making, skills development and peer support. Centres are governed and staffed by people with disabilities. While each centre offers programs and services that reflect their local communities, all centres have four common program themes.
Peer Support: sharing knowledge from life experiences, developing leadership skills, reducing individual isolation and learning about rights and responsibilities with other individuals with disabilities.
Individualized self-advocacy and Independent Living Skills Development: offering opportunities for self-help, learning skills, personal growth and individual empowerment. Also includes identifying barriers that prevent participation and working to replace obstacles by replacing them with opportunities.
Information and Networking: providing clear and up to date information on resources and options enabling individuals to make informed decisions about their own lives and the supports that they require to fully participate in their community. Not only people with disabilities benefit from this, families, community organizations, government offices, educational institutions, businesses and the community at large seek information on disability issues.
Research and Community Development: identifying gaps in services, creating new options or helping existing services become inclusive, demonstrating the IL model of service delivery and supporting communities to become accessible.