SCIL serves people with disabilities, elders (with/ without disabilities), their families, and communities in Christian, Logan, Menard, Montgomery, and Sangamon by breaking down barriers and prejudices, and replacing them with positive attitudes resulting in equal access to society. 

Independent living philosophy 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. In other words, 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. 

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.

The Father of Independent Living

Ed Roberts, the father of independent living

The Father of Independent Living Ed Roberts (January 23, 1939 – March 14, 1995), had polio and an iron lung, advocated for himself to attend the University of California at Berkley. With hesitation, the university accepted Ed to attend with provisions for him to live in the campus medical facility. At that time, the university made an announcement that Ed’s enrollment was experimental and would not allow other people with disabilities to enroll at that time. However, his success encouraged the university to cautiously allow 4 other people with disabilities to attend Berkley. These individuals referred to themselves as the “Rolling Quads”, led by Ed, 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 very 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 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 History of SCIL

Beth Langen, the first executive director of SCIL at the Grand Opening 426 West Jefferson in Springfield on March 15, 1985.

In 1984, SCIL was 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 Department of Human Services (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 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 Avenue West.