Individuals with disabilities have the right to live in the least restrictive/most integrated communities.
Advocacy and education will advance the achievement of the Mission and Vision of this organization and the principles of
In maintaining its independence and striving for innovation, the Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living will recognize the ever-evolving needs and expectations of people with disabilities.
History and Philosophy of the Independent Living Movement
The independent Living Movement is an outgrowth of the Civil Rights fight for equality initiated in the 1960’s. The Movement sprang from a deep-seeded belief among certain activists that “those who know best the needs of people with disabilities, and how to meet those needs, are people with disabilities themselves.” This philosophy marked the beginning of a paradigm shift away from institutionalization and conservatorship toward community integration and person-centered services.
The new movement originated on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. In the years from 1962 to 1969, a group of severely disabled college students lived together in Cowell hospital, a facility on the grounds of the university. These students defied the norm and participated fully in the academic and social life of the campus. The desire to shape and control their own destinies became so strong that they began to look for others in the community, who embraced this philosophy. A core group of disabled persons formed with the intent of changing society’s perception of disability.
These pioneers envisioned a service delivery system that would vastly differ from the, then prevalent, medical or social service approaches to assisting people with disabilities. Their revolutionary concept was a program methodology built on the foundation of empowerment. Services would be available to all persons with disabilities and not to an isolated disability group. Those seeking assistance would be consumers, not patients nor clients. Because many had been forced into institutions in order to receive assistive services, the new methodology would be based in the community and be non-residential. Most importantly, individuals having disabilities would design, direct and deliver services aimed at facilitating independence and self-sufficiency. This peer approach would draw from the knowledge and experiences of those successfully participating in community life. Service delivery staff would assist by “working with” rather than, “providing for” disabled consumers. No longer would doctors, social workers, nor family members speak and act on behalf of disabled individuals nor force them into institutions against their will.
Referred to as “Independent living”, the proposed ideology would be governed by the principles of self-help, self-determination, peer support, and equal access. In 1972, the dream became a reality with the founding of the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley. Today more than 400 such centers blanket the United States and several others have been established outside the country. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 legitimized the philosophy and methodology of the Independent Living Movement and forever changed the national perspective toward citizens with disabilities.