Advocacy created Independent Living. Thanks to the actions of WWI veteran Jack Fisher, Ed Roberts with the first national CIL in California, Justin and Yoshika Dart with their politics of inclusion, and many others, there are now over 500 Centers for Independent Living across the U.S. (IL Movement Page). Today, the law requires access to education, housing, and employment for everyone, including people with disabilities. Many services have been created or updated to promote independent living. However, individuals with disabilities still face discrimination in our society in employment, access, from unresponsive service systems, and from insufficient housing and transportation. Budget cuts compromise the effectiveness of existing services. And some services have overwhelmingly complex application processes to become eligible. Attitudes are also a barrier to full inclusion.
MWCIL advocates for needed legislation as well as funding and enforcement of existing laws to improve the quality of life for all people living with disabilities. We educate the community to improve compliance with laws and to improve attitudes. We work at the local, state and national level.
Persons with disabilities have the same right to participation, to the same range of options, degree of freedom, control and self-determination in every day life and life projects that other citizens take for granted.
Self advocacy empowers consumers to be assertive and articulate when faced with obstacles to independent living goals. Self advocacy means knowing what an individual wants, and knowing how to achieve one's personal goals.
MWCIL actively educates consumers in advocacy methods. Consumers are encouraged to take direct roles in advocating for their own issues as well as the issues of others. MWCIL trains consumers how to contact public officials and present their issues in writing, over the telephone and by appointment.
With access to the MWCIL database of state and federal officials' contact information combined with educational materials and training on effective letter/email writing, and phone calling, consumers have the tools they need to effect change.
MWCIL also will support an individual's rights in their community by filing complaints and taking action as needed to remove illegal barriers or obtain services.
Community and Policy Advocacy
MWCIL maintains up-to-date information about civil rights for people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, Fair Housing laws, and other legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. MWCIL provides news concerning people with disabilities on the state and national level via our newsletters and alerts and facebook page.
Active Policy Advocacy
We support events and actions to enhance community awareness and to advocate for continuous improvements. All of the service staff attend the annual event, Independent Living Education Day at the State House, to meet with legislators and advance our priorities. To find out who your legislators are, the state provides a My Election Info web page. You simply enter your address and click on "Find My Election Information". Scroll down on the results page to see list of links to each officials website. Most websites have contact information - either through a contact form, or a phone number.
Community Advocacy Services
Community services include working with municipalities, businesses and service providers to address discrimination and barriers in our society. We provide:
- ADA Consultation (Americans with Disabilities Act)
- Public Information
- Access Compliance
- Systemic Advocacy