Have you wondered why Centers for Independent Living (CILs) do things the way we do them?
CILs are built on a few key foundational beliefs, which together form our philosophy and subsequently the way we provide supports and services to people with disabilities.
First, we embrace that all individuals are different and unique. Both within types of disabilities and between types of disabilities, people experience disability differently. Not all people who are blind use braille and likewise, not all people who have paralysis need a wheelchair. Disability is an individualized experience.
While each person’s relationship to their disability is unique, it is that relationship that gives them insight into how others with disabilities experience life. At CIL’s, we believe that the best guide for a person with a disability is a person with a disability. Our Independent Living staff, who are all people with disabilities, are peers and role models who provide support with specialized knowledge that can only come from lived experience. Like many self-help organizations, we call this peer support.
Lastly, because of peer support and the expertise of people with disabilities, Independent Living naturally leads to people with disabilities managing and delivering services. It is also about empowerment, people with disabilities controlling organizations and programs that support the disability community. An important thread of these services is that they are designed to serve all people with disabilities, rather than only one type of disability. CILs are cross-disability, meaning we serve people of all disabilities who have a common goal of independence.
Together, the pieces of the Independent Living movement philosophy create a strength that cannot be found in other places.