One of the core services of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) is advocacy. The Merriam-Webster definition of advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. Advocacy can be done on many levels and in many fashions. Individual advocacy happens when CIL staff support a consumer to ask for a reasonable accommodation at work or request an appeal on a decision made by a Housing Authority. System Advocacy happens on a broader level when Independence Now staff, consumers, or Board members meet with county officials on community access for example, or share the National Council on Independent Living’s public policy platform with our Senators and members of Congress. Advocacy is an important part of the past and present of CILs, while we have made progress in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, we still have a long way to go.
The Supports Planning Agency (SPA) within Independence Now had a recent individual advocacy success. The SPA advocated for a consumer who wanted to return home with supports and services rather than stay in a Nursing Facility. A physician did not want to release the consumer to his home because they felt it was too risky. SPA staff advocated for his civil rights as well as his right to take risks! The gentleman is now at home with the supports he chose.