Independent Living

What is Independent Living?

Independent Living is both a cultural movement and a program. It is a way of looking at disability that puts the individual first and the disability second. The Independent Living Community works toward equal opportunity for people with disabilities to share in all the benefits of society.

What is an Independent Living Center?

An Independent Living Center serves people with any kind of disability in a local community who can benefit from services. Independent Living Centers are designed and operated by a majority of people with disabilities.

What are Independent Living Services?

There are eight core services provided by California’s Independent Living Centers. Expand each box below for a description of these services.

Information and Referral (I&R)

Information and Referral means hearing a person’s story and understanding what their needs are. It means being a good listener, asking questions and giving helpful information or referrals to other agencies or people who can help.


Advocacy has two sides: Individual and systems. Individual advocacy means an ILC staff member may accompany a person to medical appointments, housing interviews, Social Security visits or meetings with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. Systems change means the ILC may do things like advocate to a transit agency for better routes or buses. ILCs may also help by advocating for curb cuts, street crossings, buildings or anything else that will help all people have equal access to society.

Independent Living Skills

Independent Living Skills are any skills that can help an individual with a disability do what they want to do on their own. Things like budgeting, public transportation training, Assistive technology training and social skills can all be part of independent living skills.

Peer Counseling

Peer Counseling is based on the idea that people with disabilities know best how to take care of themselves. Peer counselors are people with disabilities who can serve as mentors or resources to other people with disabilities who face challenges in living independently.

Transition and Diversion

Transition can mean helping a person to move from a nursing home to a place to live independently in their own community. It can also mean helping a young person to move to their next steps after high School. Diversion includes services that help people with what they need to live independently in their own home so they do not have to live in a nursing home.

Personal Assistance Services

Personal Assistants can help with a variety of needs for some people with disabilities. Hiring, training and letting go of Personal Assistants is something that people who use them need to learn how to do. ILCs can provide training in these tasks and help people who need these assistants to find them.


Some people with disabilities may require places to live that are accessible to wheelchairs or other assistive technology. They may need help finding places to live that are affordable on a fixed income. ILCs can help people to get signed up with affordable housing lists and apply for Section 8 vouchers. They can help people with disabilities to understand and advocate for their right to accessible housing.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is a device or a service which helps a person with a disability to do personal or work-related tasks. Independent Living Centers can provide training in different types of Assistive Technology and help people with disabilities to find their own Assistive Technology devices or services.

What is Independent Living Philosophy?

Independent Living is a way of thinking about people with disabilities. It says that people with disabilities know best how to take care of themselves. They are able to make important decisions that affect their lives, have relationships with whom they choose and have access to all the benefits of society that non-disabled people do. Independent Living means that people with disabilities have the right to live as independently as they choose. If a person with a disability wants to ask for help, they can. But the kind of help they ask for and who they ask is up to them. This way of thinking is often described as "self-determination".

People with disabilities are people first and entitled to the same respect that non-disabled people are. The Independent Living Movement uses people-first language, such as "people with disabilities" instead of "disabled people". This shows that the person is most important, not the disability.

Who Can Receive Services?

If you have a disability and want to live more independently, you may be able to benefit from Independent Living Services. Reach out to your local Independent Living Center for more information on getting involved using the link below.

Where To Go for Services?

There are twenty-eight Independent Living Centers in California. Click below for a directory of all twenty-eight centers and to find the one nearest you.

Download the Directory of CA Independent Living Center Sites and Traumatic Brain Injury Providers