205934 Improving and expanding independent living services for persons with disabilities

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maria Ayoob, MPH , Center for Governmental Research, Albany, NY
Since the 1970s the independent living movement has created services for persons with disabilities to become more economically self-sufficient and autonomous in their daily lives. Independent Living Centers (ILCs) are community based nonprofit organizations that have carried out this mission and have also advocated for systemic changes in statewide policies, legislation and regulations governing disability issues.

Despite the demonstrated successes and accomplishments over the years for ILCs in New York State, there are currently significant gaps in services and underserved geographic areas. An assessment of ILCs surveyed centers and nearly 1400 stakeholders in 45 counties in New York to determine where those gaps are and what can be done to address them. The findings from this study reveal that persons with disabilities require expanded transportation, strengthened financial support, expanded vocational/employment opportunities, and increased emphasis on integrated housing opportunities. The research also identified that ILC services complement and contribute to cost effective alternatives to institutionalization. The results suggest that Independent Living Centers are particularly well situated to develop new approaches to improve service access to vulnerable and underserved subsets of the population of persons with disabilities, such as those in rural areas and in various immigrant communities, as well as racial/ethnic minorities, and as the population ages, seniors with disabilities.

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe the history of disability rights and the philosophy of the independent living movement. 2.Describe specific advocacy successes, that is, changes in policy that have improved the lives of persons with disabilities. 3.Explore how the expansion of independent living services might reduce tax payers’ costs in an increasingly restricted economic environment. 4.Discuss what the needs assessment findings suggest for New York’s network of Independent Living Centers.

Keywords: Disability, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted this research in conjunction with colleagues at the Center for Governmental Research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.