10 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/themselves.

De-institutionalization – no person should be institutionalized (formally by a residential 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 professionals 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.