About Our Center
Founded in 1980 as the first of its kind in Arizona, DIRECT is a private, nonprofit organization operated by and for people with disabilities. Today, DIRECT is part of a national network of more than 730 Centers for Independent Living (CIL) and focuses on:
- Advocating for disability rights and justice
- Empowering individuals to achieve their self-identified independent living goals
- Promoting the Independent Living philosophy and principles of consumer control, informed choice, community integration, and dignity of risk
- Grassroots, advocacy-driven, cross-disability organizations
- Operated by and for people with disabilities (at least 51% of staff and board must be people with disabilities, in accordance with our mission, philosophy, and legal mandate)
- Non-residential, community-based, and opposed to segregation and forced institutionalization of people with disabilities
CILs believe that the freedom to make choices, including mistakes, empowers people to further their involvement in life and the community. As a CIL, DIRECT provides the five core services mandated by federal law and our philosophy – independent living skills training, advocacy, peer mentoring/support, information and referral, and transitioning – as well as additional services such as work incentives and benefits counseling, home modifications, and classes in advocacy and activism.
DIRECT collaborates at the local, state, and national levels to advance the disability rights movement. With our mission, vision, values, and services grounded in the Independent Living philosophy, DIRECT dedicates its efforts to ensuring people with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of life.
DIRECT Center for Independence, Inc. advocates voice, choice and independence for people with disabilities.
Universal access and opportunity for all people with disabilities.
Independent Living Philosophy
Independent Living (IL) philosophy and the formation of CILs represent a radical shift away from the medical/rehab model and view of disability. Rather than focusing on a “cure,” IL philosophy recognizes disability as a natural life experience and locates the answer in social change – i.e., “fixing” society.
The primary principles of IL are:
- Consumer control (people with disabilities are the experts on our own lives, not medical or rehab professionals, and must be in control of life choices and direct our services)
- Informed Choice (people with disabilities must have information about all viable options AND the right to make the decisions impacting our lives)
- Dignity of Risk (people with disabilities have the right to make choices, and mistakes, just like everyone else)
- Integration and full participation in all aspects of life in the community (individuals with disabilities have the right to supports and services so we can live in our own homes and participate fully in our community)
Persons with disabilities are not “clients” and CIL staffs are not “professionals” who advise what is best. Instead, persons with disabilities are consumers of services and participants in programs. CILs offer the tools to help individuals achieve their self-identified independent living goals.