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This chart compares traditional approaches to medical and vocational rehabilitation services with the consumer-driven,

Independent living approach

Definition of problem physical or mental impairment; lack of vocational skill (in the VR system); lack of abilities dependence upon professionals, family members & others; it is the attitudes & environments that are hostile & need fixing
Locus of problem in the individual (individuals are sick and need to be “fixed”) in the environment; in the medical and/or rehabilitation process itself; disability is a common part of the human condition
Solution to the problem professional intervention; treatment
  1. civil rights & advocacy
  2. barrier removal
  3. self-help
  4. peer role models & peer support
  5. consumer control over options & services
Social role individual with a disability is a “patient” or “client” individual with a disability is a “consumer,” “customer” or “user” of services and products
Who controls professional “consumer” or “individual”
Desired outcomes maximum self-care (or “ADL” –
activities of daily living);
gainful employment (in VR system
independence through control over ACCEPTABLE options for every day living in an integrated community

by Gerben DeJong in 1978; adapted/expanded by Maggie Shreve and June Isaacson Kailes


Ten Principles of Independent Living

Civil Rights – equal rights and opportunities for all, no segregation by disability type or stereotype.

Consumerism – a person (“consumer” or “customer”) using or buying a service or product decides what is best for him/herself.

De-institutionalization – no person should be institutionalized (formally by a building program or family) on the basis of disability.

De-medicalization – individuals with disabilities are not “sick” as prescribed by the assumptions of the medical model and do not require help from certified medical professional for daily living.

Self-help – people learn and grow from discussing their needs, concerns and issues with people who have had similar experiences; “professionals” are not the source of help.

Advocacy – systemic, systematic, long-term and community-wide change activities are needed to ensure that people with disabilities benefit from all that society has to offer.

Barrier-removal – in order for civil rights, consumerism, de-institutionalization, de-medicalization and self-help to occur, architectural, communication and attitudinal barriers must be removed.

Consumer control – the organizations best suited to support and assist individuals with disabilities are governed, managed, staffed and operated by individuals with disabilities.

Peer role models – leadership for independent living and disability rights is vested in individuals with disabilities (not parents, service providers or other representatives).

Cross-disability – activities designed to achieve the first five principles must be cross-disability in approach, meaning that the work to be done must be carried out by people with different types of disabilities for the benefit of all persons with disabilities.

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