Empowering Virginians with Disabilities through Centers for Independent Living
February 2021 | Issue 4
Independence Together
This issue of IL Impact highlights work that CILs do to support and advocate for independent living through collaboration – with consumers, community agencies, businesses, higher education and other partners. The results? People with disabilities gaining more access to their communities, achieving personal goals and advocating for independent living.
CIL Success Stories
BRILC staff corrects curb cuts
Blue Ridge Independent Living Center (BRILC) in Roanoke not only advocates for individual consumers, but for the community at large. A friend of BRILC noticed a new sidewalk being constructed missing one crucial element - curb cuts. He notified BRILC’s Community Services Manager Marc Davis, who went to the community to investigate.
 
Marc noticed the lack of curb cuts stretched for about a half-mile. He took some measurements and a few pictures, then made a few phone calls and emailed the company installing the new sidewalk. Marc reminded them of the need for curb cuts on all new sidewalk projects.
 
After a few days, Marc rode back out to the community. He was pleased to see that corrections were being made to install the curb cuts properly. Marc happily notified the friend that had reported the sidewalk, who was happy to hear that by reporting his observation, the company corrected the problem.
NRVDRC assists Virginia Tech student
New River Valley Disability Resource Center (NRDRC) in Christiansburg assisted a 29-year-old student with autism transferring to Virginia Tech from out-of-state. He was referred to NRVDRC by the Services for Students with Disabilities Office at Virginia Tech.
 
Staff provided independent living skills training to support him in managing his daily life and adjusting to campus. They also helped the student locate a suitable living situation – a “house share” with a family that provided an optimal level of support for his independence. 
 
Since August, staff continue to provide weekly skills training virtually and are currently working with him on meeting his financial literacy goals. He is thriving – he has settled into his new home, is doing well academically nd is even involved in an on-campus club.
AIC consumer groups combat isolation
Appalachian Independence Center (AIC) in Wytheville developed a Consumer Tele-Support and Advocacy group meeting. These meetings provide social connection during the pandemic for peer support and advocacy for consumers who would have typically participated in-person.

Many AIC consumers do not have access to the internet mainly because of their rural locations, so a constant telephone support group really helps them connect with each other and decrease some of their isolation. Consumers receive and share important information with each other, receive trainings on various independent living topics and have come together to advocate.

In one advocacy effort, members contacted their local transit authority to assess how they were handling the pandemic and advocated for safety measures so consumers would be able to access public transportation to meet their daily needs. The group also likes to give back. Galax area group members have collected and donated five gallons of can tabs to the Shriners three times. The funds serve people from the Galax area.  
Program Highlight
VAIL launches Community Housing Guide
Valley Associates for Independent Living (VAIL) in Harrisonburg launched a new service called Community Housing Guide. Through this program, VAIL partners with the local Community Services Board, landlords and individuals on the Developmental Disability waiver to find independent housing for consumers.
 
In many cases, the housing needs to conform to funding requirements, such as taking rental assistance vouchers. The staff also coordinates with these partners to support consumers’ long-term success. Facing homelessness, the first consumer in the program successfully moved into his own housing in Augusta County in the fall of 2020.