Levels of Compliance with Federal Requirements in Independent Living Centers

By Nosek, Margaret A.; Jones, Steven D. et al. | The Journal of Rehabilitation, April-June 1989 | Go to article overview

Levels of Compliance with Federal Requirements in Independent Living Centers


Nosek, Margaret A., Jones, Steven D., Zhu, Yilin, The Journal of Rehabilitation


Levels of Compliance with Federal Requirements in Independent Living Centers

The number of programs delivering independent living services in this country has grown dramatically in the past 10 years. Estimated to be 52 in 1977, there are now well over 300 (ILRU Directory, 1987). The seminal concept for effective delivery of these services came from Berkeley, California, where the Berkeley Center for Independent Living was founded in the early 1970s by pioneering persons with severe disabilities to help others like themselves to live independently and to work toward a more accessible society. Fundamental to the Berkeley program were the concepts of consumer control at administrative and service delivery levels of program operations, a community-based focus, and a range of independent living services. Programs based on this model, now known as "centers for independent living", have been replicated throughout the nation with the assistance of federal funds. The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1978 authorized seed funding to develop programs based on the Berkeley model, this funding was a major factor enabling the phenomenal growth of this field. In the process, however, the center model has been replicated with considerable variance, and in some cases, with disregard for certain fundamental elements of the model, particularly consumer control.

The purpose of this article is to examine the current status of the "center" model in independent living. Material has been drawn from the ILRU National Database on Independent Living Programs to determine levels of compliance with both legislated and generally accepted criteria for centers, to compare characteristics of complying centers with non-complying programs, and to examine the implications of federal funding practices.(1) Criteria for Independent Living Centers

The first official statement of criteria for independent living centers is contained in Section 711 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1978. In Section 711 (a), it is stated that funds are provided for the establishment and operation of independent living centers and that applications for these funds must contain assurances that "handicapped individuals will be substantially involved in policy direction and management of such center, and will be employed by such center" (Section 711 (c)(1)). It further requires that centers "offer handicapped individuals a combination of independent living services" including, as appropriate, services from 14 broad categories (Section 711 (c)(2)).

Aware of the absence of operational definitions, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) followed the above amendments with a grant to the Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program of Houston in 1977 to develop consensus definitions of program types. Using a group discussion and interview methodology with 15 national and international leaders in the independent living movement, definitions were developed for independent living, independent living programs, independent living centers, transitional programs, residential programs, and service providers. This 12-month process resulted in the following definitions of independent living program and independent living center:

An independent living program is a community-based program which has substantial consumer involvement, provides directly or coordinates indirectly through referral those services necessary to assist severely disabled individuals to increase self-determination and to minimize unnecessary dependence on others. Services that an independent living program must provide or coordinate through referral are housing; attendant care, readers and/or interpreters; and information about goods and services relevant to independent living. Other services that are either provided or coordinated by independent living programs include transportation provision or registry, peer counseling, advocacy or political action, independent living skills training, equipment maintenance and repair, and social-recreational services.

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Levels of Compliance with Federal Requirements in Independent Living Centers
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