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The Center for Independent Living - USA

  • Published: 2009-02-05 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-04) : Author: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: The Center for Independent Living the worlds first organization of its kind is a national leader in supporting disabled people in their efforts to lead independent lives.

Main Document

The Center for Independent Living (CIL), the world's first organization of its kind, is a national leader in supporting disabled people in their efforts to lead independent lives.

As an organization founded by people with disabilities, we understand the challenges faced by our consumers. This motivates us to achieve immediate and long-term solutions - be it assistance with finding housing or a job, equipping a home with assistive technologies, or enhancing independent living skills.

Founded in Berkeley, California, the Center for Independent Living (CIL) emerged from the independent living movement of the 1960's as a powerful force in helping people with disabilities achieve their independence.

CIL first began as the Physically Disabled Students Program (PDSP). PDSP was formed by a group of disabled students at the University of California, Berkeley who joined forces to make the full academic and social life of the campus more accessible to themselves and others. Among these students were CIL co-founders Ed Roberts, Hale Zukas and Jan McEwan Brown. They realized that deliberate action on their own behalf was the only way for them to enjoy all of the benefits of campus life.

CIL's staff and board, most of whom have disabilities, are strongly committed to serving the community and to achieving CIL's mission. Each year, our multicultural staff provides services in various languages to thousands of people of diverse ethnicity and disabilities in the East Bay. CIL also provides information about and referrals to disability resources and products for tens of thousands of people worldwide.

CIL's consumer services give people with disabilities the tools and resources they need to achieve independence. All of these services are free and feature advocacy, counseling, education and referrals. Additionally, these services are offered in multiple languages.

Systems Change Advocacy strives to change policies to make government, transportation, and housing systems more accessible to people with disabilities.

Deaf & Deaf/Blind Services include counseling, referrals to sign language interpreters, translation of written communication and independent living skills training.

Employment Services counsels job seekers in how to set goals, enhance skills, and develop resume writing and interviewing techniques. We also work with local businesses to obtain job referrals.

Financial Benefits Counseling guides consumers through benefit services, such as public cash assistance, health insurance and work incentive programs.

Individual Advocacy is a tool used to navigate the intricacies of systems such as Social Security in order to meet our consumers' individual needs.

Youth Services provide counseling, workshops and support groups to disabled youth (ages 14 to 22), their parents and their families. We also offer disability-sensitivity training in the schools and technical assistance to teachers in accommodating youth with disabilities.

Blind Services provide one-to-one counseling, group support, independent living skills training, reader referrals, and the rental and sale of canes, Braille paper, and Books On Tape.

Client Assistance Project (CAP) educates consumers on the rights and benefits that are available to them through the Department of Rehabilitation.

Assistive Technology Services help consumers obtain, repair and understand how to use assistive devices such as ramps, wheelchairs, TTY's, and computers.

Housing Services assist consumers in finding and keeping affordable and accessible housing.

Independent Living Skills (ILS) Training provides individualized instruction in life skills and setting and achieving goals such as using public transportation, money management, social skills, attendant management, nutrition, self advocacy, etc.

Information and Referral provides information about disability issues and referral to other agencies with services to the disabled community. This is available to the public and to CIL consumers.

Peer Support Services support people as they deal with the emotional aspects of their disabilities through group and individual counseling.

Personal Assistance Services (PAS) match home attendants with individual consumers to assist with housekeeping and personal care - Visit


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