A powerful photo looking at people protesting in the 1960s for what would become the ADA.

What is a Center for Independent Living?

Information and History

CENTER FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING‑ The term "center for independent living" means a consumer‑controlled, community‑based, cross‑disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agency that is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provides an array of independent living services.

403 Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
330 branch offices
56 Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs)

Centers For Independent Living's staff are comprised of at least 51% of persons with disabilities; 51% of Board of Directors are persons with disabilities; and provides four core services:

1. Information & referral
2. Independent living skills training
3. Individual and systems advocacy
4. Peer counseling
5. Transition assistance from nursing homes and other institutions to community-based residences
6. Assisting individuals to avoid institutional placement
7. Transition of youth with significant disabilities after completion of secondary education to postsecondary life.

And with all of this said, CILs are more. CILs are a safe place. CILs are a community. CILs are home.

CIL History
With origins in the U.S. civil rights and consumer movements of the late 1960s, the Independent Living Movement grew out of the Disability Rights Movement, which began in the 1960s. The IL Movement works at replacing the special education and rehabilitation experts’ concepts of integration, normalization and rehabilitation with a new paradigm developed by people with disabilities themselves. The first Independent Living ideologists and organizers were people with extensive disabilities. Still, the movement’s message seems most popular among people whose lives depend on assistance with the activities of daily living and who, in the view of the IL Movement, are most exposed to custodial care, paternalistic attitudes and control by professionals.

In 1972, the first Center for Independent Living was founded by disability activists, led by Ed Roberts, in Berkeley, California. These Centers were created to offer peer support and role modeling, and are run and controlled by persons with disabilities.


Looking down from the second floor people gathered around a speaker in Tallahassee in the court house.

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