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Advocacy, by formal definition, is the process by which a cause or policy is supported. In day to day practice, advocacy is working to ensure that the people’s voices are heard on issues that directly affect them. As an Independent Living Center, advocacy is a core service at ILR and it is interwoven into all services that are offered. There are several types of advocacy provided by ILR:

  • Individual advocacy: ILR staff can provide advocacy services to individuals in a variety of areas: benefits, housing, community resources, educational needs, etc. While providing the advocacy services, the ILR staff will also work with the individual to increase their own self advocacy skills so that they are more comfortable in the future acting as their own advocates.

  • Self advocacy training: ILR staff can directly work with individuals who would like to increase their self-advocacy skills overall, helping them to not only understand how to be an effective self-advocate but also helping them to learn systems navigation skills.

  • Systems advocacy: Systems advocacy is advocacy that is directed towards changing policies, rules and laws that directly affect individuals with disabilities. However, systems advocacy focuses on the larger service delivery system such as agencies, organizations, service providers and government entities. Systems advocacy includes legislative advocacy on legislation that could affect people with disabilities.

Independent Living Centers must have at least 51% of their staff and Board of Directors be individuals who are living with a disability. This lived experience allows for Independent Living Centers to operate from a place of “been there, done that”, as the staff and Board members have walked down a similar path as the people the Center is providing services to. Staff are able to provide peer support to individuals because they themselves have experienced many of the same challenges and barriers that people with disabilities may be currently experiencing. In addition to cross disability peer support, ILR has become a leader in the State of Wisconsin with providing peer support services specifically for individuals who are living with mental health or substance use challenges. Many ILR staff are also Wisconsin Certified Peer Specialists, meaning they have their own lived experiences and have been through a state approved Peer Support training that has taught them how to use their own lived experience to provide support, systems navigation, recovery education and inspire hope in the recovery process.

Independent Living Skills Training is a service in which individuals are empowered to increase their independence by learning a new skill set that will help them to achieve their personal goals. ILR staff are able to help people with both assessing and learning a new skill set in almost any disability related area. These areas can include, but are not limited to, any of the following areas:

  • Communication

  • Financial management

  • Household Management

  • Accessing a variety of community services and resources

  • Learning how to access and use a variety of Assistive Technology

  • Mobility and Transportation

  • Recreation

  • Housing Resources, Rights and Responsibilities

As an Independent Living Center, Independent Living Resources provides Information and Referral services to any individual in the community who has a disability related question, concern or need. These services are available to individuals with disabilities, families, service providers and anyone in the community. Staff are able to assist individuals with locating resources and developing strategies for people to reduce barriers for any disability related area, including but not limited to the following topics:

  • Housing Issues

  • Employment Issues

  • Benefits and Funding Resources

  • Accessibility

  • Discrimination and Legal Rights

  • Assistive Technology and Adaptive Equipment

  • Community Supports and Services

Information and Referral services are vital to promoting empowerment and independence for people with disabilities. Information and Referral services are also the gateway into other services at ILR for individuals with disabilities who need longer term assistance with a resolving a barrier or achieving a goal.

Independent Living Centers provide two types of transitional services for individuals with disabilities:

  • Transition into community living: ILR staff can help individuals who are living in a variety of facilities (nursing homes, group homes, mental health facilities, corrections systems) transition back out into the community.

  • Youth transition: ILR staff can assist youth with disabilities transition into the next stage of their life following high school, whether they are continuing their education, entering the job market, looking to gain skills for living independently, etc., by helping them access community resources, learn self-advocacy skills, gain independent living skills, etc.


Independent Living Skills Training

Information & Referral

Peer Support

Transition Services

For individuals who are interested in becoming systems advocates for issues relevant to individuals with disabilities, consider joining Act Now:

Be part of a locally based advocacy network led by people with disabilities tackling difficult issues and making a difference…call ILR and find out how you can become involved in ACT NOW!

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