Independent Living & CILs
Independent Living means having control over our own lives.
We believe people with disabilities are entitled to:
- equal rights and opportunity,
- real choices that enable us to maintain control over our lives,
- power and authority over the supports and services designed to assist us,
- and full participation in our communities.
It is this philosophy which is the foundation of every decision, plan and goal that is developed not only by the Disability Empowerment Center, but life.
The Independent Living movement has been an influential disability movement, supporting civil rights for all persons with disabilities.
For more information about Independent Living, visit the National Council on Independent Living’s website by clicking here.
“Independent Living is not doing things yourself; it’s being in control of how things are done.”
Centers for Independent Living (CIL’s) are non-profit organizations designed to provide information and referral; independent living skills training; peer mentoring; and individuals in local or regional areas across the state.
The staff of each CIL is comprised of at least 51% of persons with disabilities.
The Board of Directors of every CIL has the same requirement, thus creating an atmosphere of similar disability experience, opportunities to develop leadership skills and to participate more fully in their communities.
CIL’s were created by a federal law known at the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law allowed for grants to fund qualified CIL’s who had applied. Over time, increased funding allowed states to expand the number of CIL’s.
In Pennsylvania, only nine CIL’s covering 36 counties have been created and funded by federal government over the past 40 years. Unfortunately, that left 31 counties without CIL’s. In 1994, Act 139 was passed and signed into law by Governor Casey, creating state funding for CIL’s. Since then, 18 CIL’s cover the 67 counties.
Read more about the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, by clicking here.
Disability Empowerment Center
DEC was founded as an outreach office to the Center for Independent Opportunities, located in York, Pennsylvania. In 2007, DEC became an autonomous center for Independent Living which services Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.
We are an organization run by people with disabilities serving people of all ages with all disabilities.
Also, we are consumer-controlled. This means that the Disability Empowerment Center is your center. You have the control and the choice. It’s about making your own decisions.
We offer one-on-one assistance to individuals with all types of disabilities in working toward self-identified independent living goals. All of our work together will be based on your independent living goal. Together, we identify obstacles to your goal and possible solutions. Then, we work as partners to break down these barriers.
Our mission is to break down the barriers to Independent Living – learning how to find necessary information, secure needed services, and advocate for your rights.
No, DEC is operated completely by self-referral. If you have a goal that you want to accomplish, you can refer yourself to us!
First, you’ll contact us and schedule an appointment. You can do that by clicking here. For your initial appointment, you’ll get acquainted with our staff and we’ll discuss what DEC can offer. We’ll also discuss your needs and goals and the options to accomplish those. Then, you’ll decide how we proceed. DEC will work with you the whole way to meet your goals. Our services are not “out of the box” but are specialized to your unique needs and you always have the control, the choice and the ability to make your own decisions.
Yes, we can.
We can provide assistance with Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD). As you may be aware, the application process can be very lengthy and DEC can assist you the entire way through to approval. We assist with the application and paperwork and then, if for any reason, you are denied, we can refer you to a law firm that will assist you with the appeal process for free.
Please vote and help give people with disabilities a voice.
If you are already registered to vote, unfortunately some polling places are still not accessible. To determine if your polling places is accessible, you can contact your County Board of Elections.
150 N. Queen St., Ste 117
Lancaster, PA 17603
400 South 8th Street
Lebanon, PA 17042
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities.
To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for businesses of all sizes. These requirements went into effect on January 26, 1992. Businesses that serve the public must modify policies and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities; comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities; remove barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable; and provide auxiliary aids and services when needed to ensure effective communication with people who have hearing, vision, or speech impairments. All businesses, even those that do not serve the public, must comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities.
The ADA provides a helpful primer for businesses that you can access by clicking here.
The Disability Empowerment Center offers ADA Inspections and Training for local Lancaster and Lebanon county businesses and organizations. We also offer our DEC Approved program. For more information about DEC Access, click here.