The founding of the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL), and Centers for Independent Living throughout the nation, is linked to the civil rights movement of the 1960's. During this time, many individuals with disabilities were institutionalized and not afforded the same opportunities as their counterparts without disabilities. Recognizing this injustice, individuals with all types of disabilities throughout the nation banded together to form cross-disability advocacy groups. These groups staged protests and held rallies arguing for increased accessibility and fair treatment of people with disabilities. This movement later became known as the Independent Living Movement.
The success of the Independent Living Movement, helped to push forward important legislation including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These efforts also helped to found the first Center for Independent Living in Berkley, California in 1972. From that point forward, Centers for Independent Living were founded in states across the nation. Currently, there are more than 400 Centers serving millions of Americans with disabilities each and every day.
Every Center for Independent Living provides several core services: Information and Referral, Peer Support, Advocacy, Transition Services for Youth and Older Adults, and Independent Living Skills. These services ensure that people with disabilities are provided with the services and support they need to live independently and access their community. Each Center also provides its own specialized services and programs for its consumers. In addition, every Center is governed, managed, and staffed at all times by a majority of persons with disabilities. This is called Consumer Control and it ensures that individuals with disabilities have a governing stake and role in the implementation of services and development of programs.
To find more information about Centers for Independent Living, please visit the National Council on Independent Living's website at www.ncil.org.
To find a Center near you, click here.
Ed Roberts, founder of the Center for Independent Living in Berkley.