Supporting the Mission of Independent Living Centers
May 26, 2020
By Chris Sweet
On September 10th and 11th, 2019, I had the honor of representing the Northeast ADA Center at the New York Association on Independent Living Statewide Conference and Expo at the Albany NY Capital Center with over 350 advocates, individuals with disabilities, families, service providers and independent living center staff, for 2 days of networking, advocacy, and collaboration.
Having attended this conference in the past both as an employee of an Independent Living Center and then as a representative of the Northeast ADA Center, I knew full well the value of collaborating with this wonderful group of people intent on educating themselves around best practices in serving the disability community and effecting change through advocacy.
This year’s theme, Integration. Independence. De-Institutionalization. captured the spirit that the Independent Living Centers foster in supporting community living and independence for people with disabilities. But what I took away most was the passion and commitment of every individual that stopped by my booth to speak to me about concerns they have in their own communities and their commitment to making sure that the Americans with Disabilities Act continues to inform their work for the people they represent now and in the future. As a landmark civil rights law, the ADA and its protections strengthen their efforts to promote community inclusion in employment, in equal access to and benefit from state and local government programs and services, and equal access to the goods and services of businesses and nonprofits.
If you are not familiar with your local Independent Living Center, I encourage you to reach out to these organizations, whether to volunteer or to understand how they can affect individuals and families you may know.
The Northeast ADA Center is a member of the ADA National Network funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DP0088). We provide information, guidance, and training on implementation of all aspects of the ADA. Our center is located at the Yang-Tan Institute at Cornell University. Our staff consists of individuals with and without disabilities who have extensive experience in the disability field.