Independent Living PhilosophyCreating Opportunities for People with Disabilities
The Independent Living Philosophy is the freedom to choose!
Most Americans take for granted opportunities they have regarding living arrangements, employment situations, means of transportation, social and recreational activities, and other aspects of everyday life.
For many Americans with disabilities, barriers in their communities take away or severely limit their choices. These barriers may be obvious, such as lack of ramped entrances for people who use wheelchairs, lack of interpreters or captioning for people with hearing disabilities, or lack of Braille or taped copies of printed materials for people who have visual disabilities. These barriers result in low expectations about things people with disabilities can achieve.
People with disabilities not only have to deal with the effects of their disability, but they also have to deal with both physical and attitudinal barriers. Because of this, they are likely to be limited to a life of dependency and low personal satisfaction. This need not occur.
Millions of people all over America, who experience disabilities, have established lives of independence. They fulfill many different roles in their communities, from employers and employees to marriage partners, parents, students, athletes, politicians, taxpayers–the list is unlimited. In most cases, the barriers facing these individuals haven’t been removed—it is just that these individuals have been successful in overcoming them.
What is independent living? Essentially, it is living just like everyone else–having opportunities to make decisions that affect one’s life, being able to pursue activities of one’s own choosing, having the freedom to fail and to learn from one’s failures and being limited only in the same ways that one’s non-disabled neighbors are.