In 1972, the world's first organisation, which was run by and for people with disabilities, was founded by disability activists led by Ed Roberts, in Berkeley, California.
The Centre for Independent Living supports people with disabilities in their endeavor to become independent. It is encouraged by CIL that people with disabilities make their own choices. It also helps to enable people with disabilities to open doors in the society to full participation and access for all.
The main aims of the Centres are to offer peer support and role modeling, they are run and controlled by people with disabilities. According to the Independent Living approach, the example of a peer, somebody who has been in a similar situation, can be more powerful than the intervention of non disabled professionals in analysing a persons situation, or taking responsibility for a persons life and in developing coping strategies.
Everyone including people with extensive developmental disabilities can learn to take more initiative and control over their lives, with peer support, according to the Independent Living (IL) Movement. For example, when people attend Independent Living Skills classes, peer support is used where people living with their families or in institutions learn how to run their everyday lives in preparation for living by themselves.
Centres might assist people with disabilities with housing referrals and adaption, personal assistance referral or legal aid depending on the public services in the community. Centres typically work with local and regional governments in trying to achieve improved infrastructure, raised awareness about disability issues and lobby for legislation that promotes equal opportunities and prohibits discrimination.
The IL Movement grew out of the Disability Rights movement which began in the 1970s, with origins in the U.S civil rights and consumer movements of the late 1960s. Special Education and rehabilitation experts concepts of integration, normalisation and rehabilation is replaced by the work the IL Movement in trying to come up with a new paradigm which is developed by people with disabilities themselves. People with extensive disabilities were the first Independent Living ideoligists and organisers. The people to whom the movements message is most popular are those whose lives depend on assistance with the activities of their daily lives and who, in the view of the IL movement don't have control over their own lives are controlled paternalistically and by professionals.