The Philosophy of Independent Living
The philosophy of Independent Living is that of living like everyone else - having control of one’s own life, having opportunities to make decisions that affect one’s life and being able to pursue activities of one’s own choosing, regardless of disability, with reference to the magnificent work of Mr. Adolf Ratzka.
Independent Living therefore is not just concerned with the routine physical tasks of day-to-day life, but is more about a way of life and a state of mind. It is about self-actualisation; taking control of one's own life; exercising choices; taking responsibility while also allowing for the dignity of risk and the freedom to fail. It is also a social and political movement that is changing the way services are provided and the role people with disabilities play in society.
The History of Independent Living
The Independent Living philosophy originated from the very first Center for Independent Living (CIL) established in Berkeley, California in 1972. That CIL was developed by a group of people with disabilities, to support the development of a new perspective on disability - one that gave empowerment and civil rights to people with disabilities. It supported and encouraged them to leave residential care and live independently in the community.
Independent Living in Ireland
The first Irish Centre for Independent Living (CIL), CIL Carmichael House, was established in 1992 by and for people with disabilities. Its main aim was to ensure that people with disabilities achieved independent living and full participation in society. As an organisation, it offered an advocacy and a campaigning representation role for people with disabilities. It strived to bring about a social model of service delivery, with policy decisions that would include input from those whose lives were actually affected rather than solely from the non-disabled professionals working in the disability industry.
CIL Carmichael House also assumed an action-research role in relation to Independent Living (IL) internationally. It did this by monitoring IL developments, and pursuing ‘action’ (or change) and ‘research’ (or understanding) simultaneously, thereby learning from experience and incorporating information from best international practices into an Irish context.