A Center for Independent Living is a non-profit, non-residential organization assisting people with all types of disabilities, regardless of age, to control and direct their own lives. Centers for Independent Living are extraordinary organizations that are operated by people with disabilities who, themselves, have been successful in establishing independent lives. These people have the training and the personal experience to know exactly what is needed to live independently. And, they share a deep commitment to assisting other people with disabilities to become more independent.
Within the Independent Living Movement there is a strong belief that services provided by peers are essential in assisting someone with a disability. Consequently, more than fifty percent of the members of the board of directors and staff are people with disabilities who personally have experienced attitudinal, economic, physical and/or communication barriers.
The members of the board of directors and staff serve as role models in their communities, demonstrating that is not only possible but also beneficial for people with disabilities to be productive and independent. The understanding, guidance and support provided through Centers for Independent Living give others confidence to take the first steps toward their own independence.
In short, Centers for Independent Living are vehicles through which people with disabilities can learn to exercise their basic human rights. These rights are guaranteed to each of us as American citizens; for citizens with disabilities, however, their implementation often becomes a reality only when society learns to accept people for “who” they are, rather than “what” they are.
In 1980, RAMP became the second Center for Independent Living in the State of Illinois. Today, RAMP is one of twenty-three members of Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL) and one of more than four hundred Centers nationwide. RAMP serves individuals with disabilities in Boone, DeKalb, Stephenson and Winnebago counties.