birth of the independent living movement in California has been attributed to a group
of students with disabilities at University of California at Berkeley. In 1962, the
first severely disabled student was admitted to that school; by 1969,
the number of students with severe disabilities had increased to 12.
were initially housed in an unused infirmary on campus to accommodate
their medical needs (such as, spending time in an iron lung). The UC
hospital surroundings were familiar to the new tenants, who had spent
countless days and nights in custodial institutions where parents,
medical and rehabilitation professionals, and others, made all the
decisions for them.
As the residents lived together in close,
continuing contact, they became more aware how little control they
had over their own lives. A sense of unity and
self-confidence developed as the students drew on their own experiences
to develop a philosophy of independent living.
The students believed that they didn’t need to change to become integrated; rather, the environment and the attitudes
toward people with disabilities needed to change. A core group of these
students moved on to start the Center for Independent Living in
Since the founding of this first Independent Living
Center (ILC), 28
other ILCs, and their 21 satellite offices have been established throughout
California. During this period, people with disabilities in other states were experiencing the same fire and need to take personal control and now more than 400 centers exist in the US.