What is Independent Living?
Independent Living is about having the freedom to have the same choices that everyone else has in housing, transportation, education and employment. Independent living is about choosing what aspects of social, economic and political life people want to participate in. Independent living is about having control over your life, to have a family, to get a job, to participate socially and to realise your goals and dreams.
For many disabled people, Independent Living can best be achieved by the employment of Personal Assistants to provide supports where needed.
At the core of the Independent Living Philosophy is people living like everyone else: being able to have control of your life, having opportunities to make decisions about your life and being able to choose activities that you want to do, regardless of impairment.
According to the prominent disability activist Judy Heuman, ‘Independent Living is not doing things by yourself, it is being in control of how things are done.
Independent Living is not just about daily living. It is about self-determination, control, choice and the real freedom to make decisions. Independent Living is about people being empowered to challenge society barriers to achieving full and equal citizenship.
History of the Independent Living Movement.
In the United States during the 1960’s, discrimination against disabled people was identified as a major problem, thus leading it to become an issue of concern to the civil rights movement.
Disabled people, like the African-Americans, were seen as having been marginalised by American society. The idea that all human beings, including people different impairments should have equal rights and opportunities under the law, became the cornerstone of the Independent Living Movement.
The first Center for Independent Living was established in Berkeley, California in 1972. Underpinning its establishment were attempts by people to leave residential care and live independently in the community.
Phil Draper, one of the founding members of the Independent Living Movement has said that the aim of the movement was to: ‘…develop a new perspective on disability- one which gave empowerment and civil rights to a person with disabilities…We were trying to give people the will and determination to move out of hospitals and institutions’.
The first CIL in Ireland, CIL Carmichael House, was incorporated on 27 March 1992, today there are 18 CILs in Ireland.