Independent living means, that person with disability have opportunity to live the same life, as other members of society take as granted – person can take decision on his/her life, can make the choice about everyday activities, and be limited only as much as our non-disabled neighbors are limited in their life. It simply means the opportunity to live the same quality life as non-disabled members of society and to receive the appropriate support for that.
Independent living is self-determination, equal opportunities and self-respect. It is rights and opportunities to do all the same thing other people are doing. And it also means the rights to fail and make mistakes, and to learn from the own mistakes – like all people are doing.
Some of the people with intellectual disabilities will need additional support in decision making process. But if the support is provided according to the needs of person, then the person will be able to enjoy independent life and be the part of society.
Independent living sometimes can be not so easy and sometimes can be quite risky. But millions of people with disabilities around the world value it much higher as the life when decisions are taken by other persons, life with limited opportunities and unfulfilled wishes.
We must remember, that independent living does not mean that person with disability is left alone and must cope with his/her life situation alone. Independent living does not mean that person with disability is living somewhere alone, isolated from the society. This is not the story about the loneness. This is story about opportunities to receive the appropriate support and services to be able to live good quality life.
The opposite to independent living is life in long term care institution, where other people make decisions about every daily activity of person with disability - when people will wake up, what they will eat, how they will dress, what will be the daily activities and if there will be any activity at all.
We need to move from care in long term care institutions to community based services and to do that first of all we much change the way society are looking at persons with disabilities – from object of care to equal member of society.