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Staten Island Center for Independent Living
(718) 720-9016
470 Castleton Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10301

Table of Contents
What Is Independent Living? The History of the Independent Living Movement What We are About

What Is Independent Living?

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The History of the Independent Living Movement

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, the emerging philosophy of independent living led people with disabilities from around the country to take active roles on local, state, and national levels in shaping decisions on issues affecting their lives. A major part of these activities involved formation of community-based groups of people with different types of disabilities who worked together to identify barriers and gaps in service delivery. To address barriers, action plans were developed to educate the community and to influence policy makers at all levels to change regulations and to introduce barrier-removing legislature. To address gaps in services, a new method of service delivery was conceived--one which emphasizes the role of people with disabilities in determining kinds of services essential to living independently, directing the delivery of these services, and actually providing these services.

The earliest center was formed in 1972 in Berkeley, California, soon followed that same year by centers in Boston and Houston. In 1978, following effective advocacy by people with disabilities and their supporters all over the country, federal legislation was passed that provided funding to establish independent living centers (Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act). Today, there are centers in virtually every state and U.S. territory. In fact, there are 37 Centers in New York State alone.

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What We are About

Independent living is about CHOICE and equal opportunity. We have the right to make our own decisions -about working, housing, learning, and having fun. People with disabilities have had to struggle for that right-for centuries others thought they knew what was best for us and how we should live. And until we joined together as a civil rights movement, few people thought of removing barriers-in buildings, in print, in speaking, in attitudes- so we would have the same OPTIONS as everyone else.

The best people to help us figure out our options are people who have had similar experience-PEERS. That's why most of the staff at SICIL are people with disabilities. SICIL's Independent Living Specialists help you figure out your rights and options by providing INFORMATION, sharing their experience and knowledge, showing you how to "navigate" the systems in your lives, and encouraging and supporting self-ADVOCACY when those systems have barriers.

When a system-or service or business or government office-is slow to change, we join forces to insist upon our hard-won civil RIGHTS. Please join us in these efforts whenever you can.

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