The Independent Living Movement
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The Independent Living Movement asserts that disabled people, as citizens in democratic societies, have the same right to participation, to the same range of options, degree of freedom, control and self-determination in everyday life that other citizens take for granted. As a means of achieving this, Direct Payments to purchase one’s own support is seen as more effective than services, in terms of the outcomes for users’ quality of life and cost-efficiency. Since the 1960s, the Independent Living Movement has spread from North America to all continents and adapted to different cultures. Supporting the Movement and utilizing its work has become an important ingredient of many countries’ social policy and is enshrined in legislation.
The first Centre for Inclusive Living (CIL) was started in Berkeley, California in 1973. Ed Roberts, a young student, had campaigned to be allowed into the University after being declared unfit to attend. Despite his being suitably qualified for entry, he had been refused simply because he used a breathing respirator and powered wheelchair. He was eventually allowed in, but only on condition that he stayed in the University Medical Centre, surrounded by medical staff. Ed initially agreed, but soon moved out to a student flat, employing other students to help him. Other disabled people heard about this and saw the need for a Personal Assistance Service in the community. From this developed the first CIL, based around five core services: housing, personal assistance, accessible transport, access and peer support.
The Berkeley CIL was so successful that over the next decade more than 200 CILs were set up in the United States. The first British CILs were established in the early 1980s in Hampshire and Derbyshire - they are now all across the UK. CILs provide innovative user-led services, including information and advice, peer-support, independent living skills, training and advocacy - enabling disabled people to gain choice and control over every aspect of their lives. The key feature of a CIL is that it is run and controlled by disabled people. Disabled researcher and author Buddy Bougere, in New Orleans, has located 788 CILs in 26 countries.