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Philosophy of Independent Living

'Independent Living' is the right of all people, regardless of age, type or extent of disability to:

  • Live in the community as opposed to an institution
  • Have the same range of rights as everyone else in the housing, transport, education and employment
  • Participate in the social, economic and political life of their community
  • Have a family
  • Live as responsible respected members of their communities with all the duties and privileges that this entails
  • Unfold their potential

Adolf Ratzka, a leader in the European Independent Living Movement


'Independent Living is not doing things by yourself, it is being in control of how things are done'

Judy Hueman, one of the worlds leading spokesperson on disability.

In short, Independent Living is when people with disabilities enjoy the same rights and opportunities as non-disabled people, free of forced dependency and able to make choices for themselves and control their own lives. Independence means that the assistance is there for the person to use in the way that suits them best.

Independent Living is a philosophy, a way of life and a movement of people with disabilities, working for equal rights and opportunities, self respect and self determination. It does not mean that people with disabilities don't need anyone, wanting to do everything for him or herself. It simply means that they want the same right to control their own lives and to make their own choices in the same way that non-disabled people do. It means being in charge of your own life with all the responsibilities that it brings. People with disabilities are the only real experts in their needs and requirements. Independent Living enables all disabled people to achieve equal rights and opportunities and enjoy full participation in society.

Living is based on four assumptions:

  1. All human life is of value.
  2. Anyone, whatever their impairment, is capable of making choices.
  3. People who are disabled by society's reaction to physical, intellectual or sensory impairment, have the right to exert control over their own lives.
  4. People with disabilities have the right to participate fully in society

The philosophy of Independent Living is concerned with self-advocacy and self-determination, about people with disabilities deciding what is best for them. It means having the opportunity to live as self-sufficiently as possible, living their life the way they want to. This approach is based on rights rather than charity.

Independent Living is a relative term. What is independence to one person may be dependence to another. The important thing is the freedom to choose the level of the independence that the person themselves needs.

There are two definitions of disability: the medical model and the social model.
Independent Living is based on the social model and this model is preferred by groups/organisations controlled by people with disabilities.

'Living independently' means; that the person lives without help, doing things for themselves, by themselves. This is the 'care' approach.
'Independent Living' means; the person is not in need of care, but requires assistance with certain activities.

Living Independently = The Medical Model = Doing things by themselves
Independent Living = The Social Model= PA's assisting people with disabilities

Independent Living means a great deal to people with disabilities. It means living as they choose to live, making choices and decisions for themselves. It means having the same rights as everyone else and being in control of their own lives.

Charity Number: 12005

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