Centers for Independent Living

The definition of a center for independent living from Section 702 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is:

The term “center for independent living” means a consumer-controlled, community‑based, cross‑disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agency that is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provides an array of independent living services.

A center for independent living will have staff where at least 51% are persons with disabilities and a Board of Directors where at least 51% are persons with disabilities.

A center for independent living provides five core services:

  1. Information & referral
  2. Independent living skills training
  3. Individual and systems advocacy
  4. Peer counseling
  5. Transition: Services that facilitate transition from nursing homes and other institutions to home and community based residences with the necessary supports and services, provide assistance to those at risk of entering institutions, and facilitate transition of youth to postsecondary life.


The first center for independent living was founded in Berkeley, California, in 1972. For information on the history of the independent living movement, check the overview at About Independent Living webpage at the National Council of Independent Living (NCIL) or a more complete history at A People’s History of the Independent Living Movement webpage at the Independent Living Institute.

ILRU has a directory of Centers for Independent Living in the United States and its territories.