Letter to the Inspector General Calling for An Immediate Audit of the Independent Living Administration

The Honorable Daniel R. Levinson
US Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Inspector General
PO Box 23489
Washington, DC 20026

Dear Inspector General Levinson,

We are writing to request that the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conduct an audit of the Independent Living Program and the legal oversight responsibilities being neglected by the Independent Living Administration (ILA) within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), specifically in regard to contractor and grantee compliance with the laws governing America’s Independent Living Program.  Continue reading

Independent Living Administration – IL Specialist: Job Description

The following Job Description for IL Specialists at the Independent Living Administration (within the Administration for Community Living) was obtained April 6, 2017 by FOIA Request. Shockingly, the IL Specialist Job Description has not been updated since 2005. Nevertheless, it’s very specificContinue reading

Comments to the National Council on Disability

Save MI CILs - Oversight Now!February 23, 2017

The topic we were asked to address is the connection between disability and poverty. In this state, the connection between disability and poverty is that for every disabled person that stays poor and dependent, someone gets filthy rich.

It’s very important for you to understand the immense power and influence of sheltered workshops in Michigan. Our state government has partnered with the businesses exploiting the disability community. In partnership with Michigan’s sheltered workshops and Michigan Rehabilitation Services, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have systematically and successfully destroyed and dismantled all consumer-controlled entities in the state.  Continue reading

Fighting for Consumer Control in the Age of Trump

By Darma Canter

After two years of advocating within Michigan’s publicly-funded local and state Independent Living program, I should have been more prepared for the new President, his loose interpretation of history, as well as facts in general, and his presumption of authority. I should have seen the government moving away from the people and public service, and investing power and authority in the service of corporate entities. Still, every day since January 20, I wake up to the unexpected, shocking new reality.

darma-canterI have spent a lot of time, too much time, thinking in the last three months. What is the role of government? What is the fundamental nature of democracy? How are units of government, their programs, policies, practices connected to the people? What is my role and responsibility in a democracy, and what responsibilities does the government have to citizens, to tax payers, and to me?

What is the people’s business? How does the public hold its government accountable to act in the public’s interest? These questions are surprisingly hard to answer. The 2016 election results seem to indicate not everyone agrees on the answers – or even the questions themselves.  Continue reading

On Ed Roberts & Creaming in Michigan’s Independent Living Program

Cream. Verb. To advance individuals with the least significant disabilities in order to create the illusion of consumer control without having to do the hard work of affirmative action, workplace accommodation, and confronting ableism in our own spaces.

“Creaming” is a term coined by Ed Roberts, the Father of the Independent Living Movement. Roberts was famously told by vocational rehabilitation (the agency responsible for helping people with disabilities find employment) that he was “too disabled” to work. In response to this blatant discrimination, Ed Roberts started a revolution. He created the first Center for Independent Living, which sparked a nation-wide movement. In Independent Living, people with significant disabilities (consumers) have complete control over the decisions that affect their lives, including the management of Centers for Independent Living – community-based organizations that advance the rights of people with disabilities. Years later, Ed Roberts was appointed Director if California vocational rehabilitation – the very agency that had declared him unemployable.  Continue reading

How Michigan CILs Became Service Providers Chasing Money and Working for Our Oppressors

By Darma Canter

Independent Living values have disappeared from Michigan’s Centers for Independent Living. We therefore reassert and stand firmly behind the following truths:

  • Independent Living philosophy is grassroots community organizing to confront inequality and exclusion.
  • Centers for Independent Living were created to solve a universal disability dilemma: people with disabilities need supports to be independent, but must become dependent on public systems of care in order to access those supports.
  • The IL movement was conceived by people who rebelled against the myths and misconceptions surrounding people with disabilities. IL was built by and for the individuals who face a daily fight for dignity and self-respect.

Our History: All over the country, communities of people with significant disabilities formed centers focused on self-help in order to share their knowledge and experience, advocate for change, support the empowerment of their peers, and learn skills to manage their individual supports and services. Four “core” services – funded by Congress – describe the disability community working together as agents of change: advocacy, peer support, information and referral, and independent living skills training. CILs are tasked with changing how we feel about our disability identity: No Pity. No Shame. They are tasked with changing the social assumptions about people with disabilities as less than, powerless. In short, disability rights are civil rights.  Continue reading