How do CILs assist people?

CILs strive relentlessly to increase the involvement of people with disabilities in every aspect of their own lives. Through a wide variety of services and supports (provided at no cost to the consumer served), CILs will assist individuals with any type of disability to define and achieve their independent living goals. Each CIL in Illinois has evolved to meet specific needs of the communities it serves. Some of the most frequently provided services are community education and training, equipment repair, recreational activities and home modifications. CILs offer a variety of resources to help all people live independently, including accessible housing, transportation, employment opportunities, personal assistants, sign language interpreters, readers for people who are visually impaired and more.

All CILs are guided by a duty to provide 5 core services:


1. Peer support


The foundation of CIL services is the peer relationship. Staff who have experience living with a disability and are achieving their personal goals assist others who have similar disabilities, serving as role models, mentors and advocates. The peer relationship helps individuals work through problems specific to a particular disability, and also offers a source of encouragement as the transition is made to independent living.

2. Information & Referrals


CILs provide information about disability-related issues, resources and services to people with disabilities, families, professionals and the general public.  Staff, the majority of whom are people with disabilities themselves, are available to listen and assist with locating resources and developing strategies for individuals to resolve barriers including, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Educational accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Health Care
  • Benefits and funding
  • Accessibility
  • Discrimination and legal rights
  • Finding adaptive equipment & technology

Navigating often-complicated programs and systems allows for people to find independence in a cluttered world of information.  CIL staff have a wide range of expertise and will follow up – on the phone and in person, by email and social media – to make sure useful and accurate information and resources are relayed in an accessible way.

3. Advocacy


CILs work with consumers and the general public to promote and defend the rights of people with disabilities in two major ways :

Individual advocacy focuses on the individual with a disability and services available within the community to assist them in living independently and to eventually become their own advocate. If an individual needs help navigating an act of discrimination or a barrier to inclusion, CIL staff will work with other advocates, elected officials, family and friends to achieve a positive resolution or outcome.

Systemic advocacy involves working together to eliminate barriers and allow people with disabilities to fully participate in their community. CILs work individually, with other disability advocacy organizations, and through the INCIL association to push for changes to local, state and federal policy — all in the interest of advancing the cause of inclusion, integration and fairness for people with disabilities in Illinois. The National Council on Independent Living publishes a wide-ranging, aggressive policy agenda that INCIL works to advance at home in Illinois.

4. Independent Living Skills Training


The heart and soul of independent living is being in control of your own life. CILs offer a variety of training to equip all people with the skills and information to manage their own lives and live more independently. Courses include use of public transportation, managing a personal budget, dealing with insensitive and discriminatory behavior and many other topics.

5. Transition Support


CILs are capable of supporting efforts to help young adults with disabilities transition successfully into adulthood, and they are also able to assist adults manage transitions out of nursing homes or institutions and into community-based living options.

Youth Transition programs offer students, their families and their schools with the information and support needed to move into to college or university studies, career/technical/vocational training, employment and independent living.

The Community Reintegration Program supports alternatives to institutional and nursing home care for individuals 18 to 59 years old by walking individuals and their families through the range of long-term living options, including the full set of individual and group home possibilities. Consumers who work with CILs in this program receive the guidance and support needed to make individually appropriate, informed choices about their lives, empowering consumers who want to live in a home and community of their choice.

Related Services May Include:

  • Hiring/Managing Personal Assistants
  • Home Modifications
  • Durable Medical Equipment/Supplies
  • Housing /Utility Assistance
  • Security Deposit Assistance
  • Household Furnishing