About Independent Living Philosophy

About Independent Living Philosophy 

The Independent Living (IL) philosophy and movement started in the early 1960s. The philosophy is based on the following concepts:

  • Consumer Control – individuals with disabilities should have control over decisions in their lives such as where to live, when to go to bed, when to get up, what to eat, what services or products to purchase, etc. In the Independent Living philosophy, individuals with disabilities are identified as consumers or customers rather than patients or clients as in the “Medical Model”. Referring to individuals with disabilities as consumers instead of clients or patients better reflects this idea of choice and moves away from the old notion that people with disabilities are sick or broken. Centers for Independent Living provide and advocate for services that allow people with disabilities to live their lives as they choose.
  • Individualization – services provided must fit each person’s individual beliefs, goals, lifestyle, etc. Just because someone has the same disability doesn’t mean another person with the same disability will need or want the same services or have the same desires.
  • Cross-Disability – services should be provided to individuals with any type of disability rather than a particular disability.
  • Peer-support – people with disabilities often know how to best serve others who have the same or similar disabilities. Peers offer each other support based on their own experiences with the same or similar disabilities.


Freedom of Movement: IL History and Philosophy