We use the word “independent” here at Freedom Resource Center every day, but what does that mean?  Independent living, as seen by centers for independent living, is a philosophy, a way of looking at disability and society, and a worldwide movement of people with disabilities working for self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunities.

The Independent Living philosophy believes that people with disabilities are the best experts on their needs, and therefore they must take the initiative, individually and collectively, in designing and promoting better solutions and must organize themselves for political power.

As citizens of the United States, the independent living movement claims, persons with disabilities have the same right to participation, to the same range of options, degree of freedom, control and self-determination in every day life and life projects that other citizens take for granted.

Independent Living does not mean that we want to do everything by ourselves, do not need anybody or like to live in isolation. Independent Living means that we demand the same choices and control in our every-day lives that our non-disabled brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends take for granted. We want to grow up in our families, go to the neighborhood school, use the same bus as our neighbors, work in jobs that are in line with our education and interests, and raise families of our own. We are profoundly ordinary people sharing the same need to feel included, recognized and loved.” Dr. Adolf Ratzka (director of the Institute on Independent Living)

Independent living means people with disabilities are ordinary people who have feelings, needs, and wants just like everyone else.  We don’t need to be pitied (moral model), we don’t need to be fixed (medical model), we don’t need to be told what is best for us because someone else knows what’s best for us (professional model).

As long as we feel ashamed of who we are, our lives will be regarded as useless.

As long as we remain silent, we will be told by others what to do.

As long as we remain dependent on government financial assistance, we will remain in poverty

As long as we allow others to tell us what is best for us, we will remain left behind.