The Philosophy of Independent Living

As a result of the growing civil rights movements in the 1960s, people with disabilities intended to promote their rights through certain initiatives. Four disabled students applied to the Berkeley University of California. The University placed them to the University Hospital, as the buildings and the dormitories were not accessible to them. 


One of them, Ed Roberts, who used a ventilator, launched a fight against his segregated position. He wanted to live with personal helpers, independently. Meanwhile, it turned out that thousands suffered from discrimination across the United States. Thus, the civil rights movement has begun, spreading as the Independent Living Movement throughout America, later in Europe, and then throughout the world.


The leaders of the Movement established Independent Living Centers in which the

the following activities have been carried out and are still carried out today:

  • personal assistance service with public funding;
  • peer counseling, peer support;
  • fight against discrimination;
  • fight for integrated education, employment, equal pay;
  • meetings and forums with city leaders and politicians.


The 20-year work eventually resulted in the enactment of the “Americans with Disabilities Act,” the ADA, in 1993. The ADA states that any person with any disability is a full citizen and discrimination against them is illegal. 


The essence of the Independent Living Movement


The essence of the movement is that the disabled person should make his or her own decisions for which he or she should take full responsibility. The movement goes against the fact that professionals or responsible family members may decide about what is best for the disabled person. 


Independent living does not mean full independence within every area of life. It means that a person with disability should decide that when, where and from whom he or she is enlisting any help or assistance.


Independent living focuses on the importance of disabled people’s capability of organizing their own lives. It should minimize dependence on others.


Society’s role


Society should legally ensure equal participation in all areas of life. Any state should provide  the right to housing, healthcare, aids, personal assistance, mobility, communication, information, education, training, work, political activity, culture.


Independent Living as a concept is used in many ways. The exact meaning should be clarified, as it is often confused and interpreted as an equivalent term to self-sufficiency, which is the goal of rehabilitation. 


The concept of Independent Living requires a new approach. The original rehabilitation approach intends to adapt teach the disabled person how to live in an environment that was not designed for him or her. The concept of Independent Living focuses on that the environment should be adapted to the needs of disabled people. It is usually not a matter of money, but a matter of attention.


What is Independent Living?

It is

  • the right of people with disabilities to self-determination;
  • philosophy of life, approach and practical implementation;
  • opportunity for equity and equality.


In addition to this, disabled people should be provided with information necessary for them to be able to decide whether they would like to live independently or not. The disabled people should be in a position to purchase the services on their own. Society should create and enforce the conditions for this.


Dissemination of our philosophy

Our latest activity: Disseminating the idea of ​​Independent Living in the countryside, forming local groups


The idea of ​​Independent Living has spread the mostly within Budapest so far, as most disabled people live here in organized, larger groups. In order to spread the idea nationwide, we contacted some rural groups of young people with disabilities.


So far, we have had conversations in several local communities. We passed on our experiences and talked about the essence of the philosophy.


These young people often live with their parents or in a social home, and even if their desires include an independent life, they do not dare to make it happen. Many of us went through this state, but the desire and will were so strong that it overcame the fears. Setting an example from our own lives, many people shed light on the possibilities for self-determination.


Our goal is to take the idea to as many rural cities as possible, as many of our peers do not yet understand the essence.