Independent Living in a term which I have very much grown up with, it is hailed at the utopia goal for all disabled people but what does it really mean and is it what a generation of disabled people want or need?
Independent Living was a concept created by disabled people when so many people were left in residential institutions and homes regardless of their own needs. For all purposes, ‘disabled people’ were segregated from society. But times have moved on and a majority of disabled people lives on their own homes, or with family.
So have independent living been achieved? I am not sure as I am not sure it means. While so many people claim to led independent lives when it suits them, they also claim they still have barriers to living independent when they are asked to contribute to society.
I believe it is somewhere in the middle, the foundations of true independent living, being active citizens, has been laid and now disabled people need to be supported to take up the responsibility needed to go to the next level. Service providers and user led charity also need to learn to let go and stop trying to control the lives of disabled people as services need to become mainstream.
Independent Living has arrived but now we need real inclusive living.