Independent Living Philosophy today means equality. People with disabilities demand equal access to education, employment, housing, transportation, recreation, health care, the judicial system and local, state and federal government.

Independent Living Philosophy today means that people with disabilities have the same rights as non-disabled people. They have a right to the means necessary for full participation in the community.

The following beliefs of people with disabilities support Independent Living Philosophy

No Stereotyping

  • Each person should be treated as a unique individual without assumptions based on their disability.
  • People should not assume they know what is best for a person with a disability based on their education, good intentions, or their own disability or background.
  • There is no "one size fits all" or "what worked before should work now" answer to issues and needs.
  • Disabling conditions can change and so can personal and assistive equipment needs.

Not a Death Sentence

Many disabilities are permanent and cannot be treated or cured with medicine (blindness, deafness, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, etc.).

People with these disabilities are not sick or broken. Their "condition" may limit their ability to engage in some activities or require that they modify the way they engage in activities.

Their condition does not prevent them from participating in life.

Other permanent disabilities may be treatable (mental illness, diabetes, lupus, etc.) but not completely cured.

These disabling conditions are a normal part of those individuals just like nearsightedness or farsightedness is a normal limitation of sight. Prescribed care for people with disabilities should not limit their inclusion in life activities.

Freedom of Choice

People with disabilities work, go to school, get married, have children, buy houses and do all the things non-disabled people do.

People with disabilities have the same rights and freedoms afforded all U.S. citizens.

People with disabilities have the right to make choices and change their minds.

No person, family member, government official or agency, educator, employer or medical professional has the right to make decisions or choices for a person with a disability without their consent.

Children with disabilities have the same rights as non-disabled children.

Examples of Independent Living Center Operations

These videos consider five issues: accessbility, administrative, code of conduct, financial, and budgetary. There are two videos for each issue. For each issue, watch the first video. Then either by yourself or in a group, think and talk about what you would do. The video for part two of each issue has additional information.


Part One

Part Two


Part One

Part Two

Code of Conduct

Part One

Part Two


Part One

Part Two


Part One

Part Two

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