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Independent Living Movement

Signing of ADA in 1990The Independent Living Movement stems from a rich history and continues to this day. Starting in the 1960’s, people with significant disabilities were beginning to get out of institutions and nursing homes to live in society. Across the country, the Independent Living Movement formed from the grassroots with the mission of deinstitutionalization and promoting disability rights. The Independent Living philosophy is based on the fact that disability is a natural part of life. Society, not disability, is what has created and maintained physical and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

Centers for Independent Living (CILS) are community-based, cross-disability, non-profit organizations that stemmed from the Independent Living Movement. They are designed and operated by people with disabilities. CILs are unique in that they operate according to a strict philosophy of consumer control, wherein people with all types of disabilities directly govern and staff the organization. CILs provide peer support, information and referral, individual and systems advocacy, and independent living skills training. There are currently over 400 Centers for Independent Living (CILs) across the country, all run by people with disabilities.