What is a center for Independent Living?
Independent Living Centers are non-residential, non-profit, consumer-controlled, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for persons with all types of disabilities.
A center for independent living (CIL) is based on the independent living philosophy which is the belief that all persons, regardless of disability, have the right and responsibility to control and direct their own lives and to fully participate as equal members of society. There are 23 centers in Illinois. CILs lead efforts to break down barriers and prejudices within communities, replacing them with positive attitudes resulting in equal access to society for people with disabilities. SCIL's philosophy is based on consumer control. To ensure that focus is maintained, at least 51% of the staff and board of directors must be people with disabilities. CILs serve people with disabilities, their families, advocates, individual organizations and businesses interested in learning more about independent living.
History of Independent Living (IL)
IL began in Berkeley California in the 60’s during the Civil Rights Movement.
Ed Roberts, a man who had polio and used an iron lung, advocated for himself to attend the University of California at Berkley. He was once thought to be too “disabled” and unemployable by the state vocational rehab facility.
Ed was finally accepted to attend the university with provisions for him to live in the campus medical facility. At that time the university made an announcement that they looked at Ed’s enrollment as experimental and would not allow other people with disabilities to enroll at that time. Ed’s success encouraged the university to cautiously allow 4 other people with disabilities to attend Berkley. Led by Ed, these individuals referred to themselves as the “rolling quads” and advocated for more accessibility at the university. Ed went to Washington D.C. to acquire a grant which founded the first Physically Disabled Students Program (PDSP) on the first college campus anywhere in the world.
Because the PDSP was so successful, plans emerged to copy this program and make it available to ALL people with disabilities. The concept of centers for independent living was born. In 1972, with minimal funding, the Berkeley Center for Independent Living (CIL) was founded
In the mid-70's newly elected California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ed Roberts as Director of the state rehabilitation agency, the same agency that once believed he was unemployable.
The Independent Living Movement would change how people with disabilities perceived themselves and challenge the archaic notions that people with disabilities were passive recipients of charity and unable to self direct their own lives.
National Funding for CILs began in 1979 created by the Rehabilitation Act.
History of SCIL
SCIL began in 1984, with a small group of community members who originally wanted to increase links between Memorial Medical Center's rehabilitation unit and the community. The original plan was for a transitional living center, focusing on independent living skills training for patients leaving Memorial and reintegrating into their homes and communities following the onset of a physical disability. As representatives from DHS, persons with disabilities, and staff from Memorial Medical Center began researching models of services nationwide, it became clear that the broader range of service needs and the philosophy of independent living which they embraced were best addressed by the establishment of a CIL. With no state, federal or local funds available the group made plans to provide information/referral as volunteers.
Simultaneously, new leadership at DHS/ORS made a commitment to expand independent living services in Illinois. In September 1984, the community group became an official board and SCIL was incorporated. DHS awarded SCIL a contract to begin a statewide information referral service called Abledata. Also in the fall of 1984, a request for proposal (RFP) was issued to begin new CILs in Illinois. In January 1985, SCIL was one of five new CILs funded by DHS. Staff were recruited and hired, and SCIL opened its doors at 426 West Jefferson in Springfield on March 15, 1985.
In 2004 SCIL purchased and moved to a new building located at 330 South Grand Ave., West.
SCIL’s 4 Core Services
Information and Referral
SCIL offers a wide range of information and materials about disabilities, services, and issues of concern. These resources can be obtained in person or by calling SCIL. SCIL also offers referral services to assist consumers in locating services and information in our 5 county service area.
Independent Living Skills Training
SCIL offers training to consumers on an individual or group basis. Areas of focus are determined by the need of the individual consumer and could include: SSDI/SSI benefits assistance, self-care, financial management, self-advocacy, employment, bus training and more.
SCIL offers opportunities for individuals to exchange information, experiences and feelings with a person who has a similar disability or life experience. Several peer groups and peer counselor trainings are held at SCIL.
Advocacy (Individual and Systemic)
Individual advocacy may include working with an individual to affect change and provide accommodations in one’s workplace, school or community.
Systemic advocacy is advocating for programs and policies that protect the rights of people with disabilities that remove the barriers to full inclusion in all aspects of community life. Legislative advocacy is a way to bring about systemic changes. This type of advocating is important to people with disabilities and SCIL consumers and members are encouraged to take part in rallies, write letters and join others in advocacy efforts in the community as well as state and federal arenas.
Who is eligible for services?
Anyone who has a disability is eligible for SCIL services.
Is there a cost for services?
All services are free except fees for sign language classes or on rare occasions, other educational opportunities sponsored by SCIL.