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Eliminating Barriers

Submitted by Nancy McClellan Hickey, Executive Director at PACE, Inc.

Centers for Independent Living are cross-disability. That means we serve all types of disability.

A simple statement but a rather revolutionary concept. First of all, a lot of people don’t see the link between all disabilities. That is a powerful link – barriers to independence. For the Deaf it may be communication barriers, for a person using a wheelchair it might be stairs, for someone with a mental illness it could be stigma. Though the barriers change in nature they are still barriers. CILs work with consumers to identify and eliminate barriers to their independence. Sometimes the barriers are the consumers own attitude after being surrounded by years of doubt from others. We don’t fix people, we rearrange the environment so to speak. People with disabilities are not broken, they are unique and so their needs are not always addressed in the way the world sets up for John Q Public. Some would say John is “normal”. I would not. I would say John is average. This is the revolutionary concept, setting up the environment instead of labeling people as broken.

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