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From the 19th century until about 1960, disability was treated almost exclusively as a medical, rehabilitation, and charity case.  The goal was either to “fix” people with disabilities, or to segregate those who couldn’t be “fixed” into institutions (the medical model).  The independent living movement began to change that.  The independent living philosophy is very different from the medical model (fix) or the moral model (charity case).  While people with disabilities are dependent on “professionals” to make decisions about their lives in the medical model; the independent living philosophy considers disability a natural part of life.

Independent living means we have the right to live independently; enjoy self‑determination; make choices; contribute to society; pursue meaningful careers; and enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of American society.  The independent living philosophy also believes that people with disabilities are the best experts on their needs, and therefore they must take the initiative, individually and collectively, in designing and promoting better solutions; as well as organize themselves in order for political change to occur.

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