Self-empowerment is something that you do to yourself. Others can facilitate self-empowerment in others, but eventually everyone can only empower oneself. It is like freeing a caged animal. You can open the door, but if the animal is too terrified to leave the only environment it knows, it will not take the freedom you allow it. So freedom is never given, it is essentially taken (and often without a door conveniently opened). The same holds for empowerment, it can only be developed by taking matters in one’s own hand. It requires the self-acquisition of experience and confidence and it demands ample interaction with a wide range of known and unknown aspects of the world.
Disempowerment is something that is done to others. Disempowerment it is typically aimed at removing the factors that facilitate empowerment. These include corrupting the safety of the home situation, reducing the breadth and usefulness of experiences, ensuring that people are not or minimally exposed to positive role models and exposing them to false role models, punishing people for independence, individuality, and explorations beyond the norm, forced and uniform education/training (instead of curiosity guided and learner adapted education), representative democracy (which boils down to giving control away), etcetera, etcetera. Whatever form disempowerment takes, it leads invariable to you and your environment dwindle, perish, or otherwise struggle. Disempowered people lack the self-belief that change is possible, they lack the confidence that they have the skills or opportunities needed to escape poverty or that they have the potential to develop them. They are often trapped in the cycle of dependency, disempowerment and poverty. Helping people to develop their sense of self-worth, getting them to value themselves and recognize their strengths and resources, and getting them to envision a life where they are not living in poverty.
Centers for Independent Living were created to be run by and for people with disabilities, and offer support, advocacy, and information on empowerment in the attainment of independence from a peer viewpoint, a perspective that was previously excluded from participation in the discussion and execution of “services for the disabled.” Independent Living philosophy emphasizes consumer control, the idea that people with disabilities are the best experts on their own needs, having crucial and valuable perspective to contribute and deserving of equal opportunity to decide how to live, work, and take part in their communities, particularly in reference to services that powerfully affect their day-to-day lives and access to independence.