Our umbrella organization

“The advocacy “Interessenvertretung Selbstbestimmt Leben in Deutschland e.V. – ISL” is the umbrella organization of the Centers for Independent Living. The organization was founded in 1990 in Erlangen by men and women with disabilities. The central ideas of the ISL are self-determination – self-advocacy – inclusion – empowerment!

History of the Independent Living Movement

The independent living movement originated in the USA. Starting point was the fact that people with disabilities no longer wanted to be patronized, mentored, discriminated against and deported to sheltered institutions. All over the world, persons with disabilities rose up to free themselves from the dependence on welfare. They vividly demonstrated through their own example and dedication that a disability is not an obstacle to a self-determined and independent lifestyle.

The year 1962 marks the beginning and origin of the worldwide disability movement in the USA. Persons with disabilities were supported and motivated to represent their own interests by the African American civil rights movement and also by students. Gradually, more and more disabled citizens realized that many difficulties were the result of social discrimination. They no longer wanted to accept and tolerate this.

Thus, in 1972, the first "Center for Independent Living" - CIL was established in the USA with the offer of "Peer Counseling". This means that, for the first time, people with disabilities seeking advice were counseled and supported by people who were also disabled.

The organized association of many persons with disabilities increased the pressure on the U.S. government. State support programs made it possible that today there are more than 300 Centers for Independent Living have been set up throughout the country, all of which are significantly influenced by persons with disabilities following the example of the first CIL.

Origin of the German Independent Living Movement

In Germany, this movement began with some delay. The first initiatives of disabled people were less political and more concerned with sports and leisure activities. It was not until the mid-1970s that the movement took on a political character. In 1981, the "Cripple Tribunal" was the first highlight of the German disability movement. Persons with disabilities from all over Germany came together in Düsseldorf to publicize their everyday discrimination and inhumane experiences. In 1986, the first Centre for Independent Living was founded in Bremen.

Self-determined living, according to the criteria of this civil rights movement, is "control over one's own life based on the choice of acceptable options." This definition contains a number of demands and challenges both for disability work and policy and for persons with disability themselves. These are reflected in the following six principles of the International Independent Living Movement:

  • Anti-discrimination and equality laws for persons with disabilities
  • De-medicalization of disabilities
  • Non-segregation and the greatest possible integration into the life of the community
  • Greatest possible control over the own organizations
  • Maximum control over services for persons with disabilities
  • Peer counseling and peer support as a key factor to disability empowerment

The ISL introduces itself

Our umbrella organization is committed to

  • the realization of all human rights of women and men with disabilities
  • a self-determined life for all persons with disabilities
  • the equal participation of people with different disabilities in all areas of life and society
  • the realization of the principle “Nothing about us without us!”
  • a fair distribution of social wealth between people with and without disabilities

With the methods of "Peer Support" and "Peer Counseling", we empower individuals with disabilities so that they can gain access to their own strengths and resources and shape their lives in a self-determined way.

On the one hand, we try to change the legal and social framework through political advocacy, committee and lobbying work in such a way that disabled women and men can participate equally. On the other hand, these activities also serve to raise awareness so that persons with disabilities are increasingly and naturally seen as an enrichment of society.

We contribute to bringing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to life in Germany and are committed to inclusion in all areas of life. Personal assistance, inclusive education and professional participation are our current thematic priorities.

You can find more information on the ISL here: www.isl-ev.de.

Source: The contents about the Independent Living Movement and the portrayal of our umbrella organization have been taken from www.isl-ev.de on 22.03.2023 and then translated into English.