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.
An advantage to living and working in the Metro DC area is that when your national organization does visits on Capitol Hill there is no plane trip required! For years Independence Now has met with Federal Elected Officials to share the key issues around national public policy for people with disabilities. Staff will be doing these visits virtually this year and sharing the national legislative and policy priorities. Every year The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) membership selects the top funding priorities which include the Independent Living Program, healthcare, and long-term care, as well as housing. As members, we are prepped on the issues and then attend visits with our Legislators to educate them on areas of significance for the disability community.
Check out NCIL’s Legislative Advocacy Priorities