Independent Living (IL) is a vision, a philosophy and a movement of persons with disabilities. Born on California university campuses in the 1970s, the movement spread to Canada in the 1980s, and has since reached around the globe and changed the way people view and respond to disability. It is premised on the philosophy that all people with disabilities have skills, determination, creativity and a passion for life. The IL movement differs from a traditional service providing organizations by emphasizing peer support, self-direction, and community integration by and for people with disabilities themselves. The IL model embraces the notion that rights and responsibilities are shared between citizens and the state, focusing on building a country based on the principles of inclusion, equity, affordability and justice.
However, many are unable to fully participate in the economic, political and cultural life because barriers to full citizenship persist in Canadian society. These include outdated attitudes, inflexible laws and regulations, and fragmented and uncoordinated approach to everything from hiring, to housing, to public transportation.
The IL philosophy is not an abstract concept. Instead, it is about a way of living as a person with a disability in a society full of barriers. This philosophy is facilitated by Independent Living Canada and its network of member Independent Living (IL)†Centres.
Independent Living is founded on the right of people with disabilities to:
- Live with dignity in their chosen community;
- Participate in all aspects of their life; and
- Control and make decisions about their own lives.