Five Core Services
Independence Associates works with consumers both individually and in groups to provide the five core services of independent living: Information and Referral, Advocacy, Independent Living Skills Training, Peer Counseling and Transition.
Information and Referral
Information and referral (I&R) services are provided to people with disabilities, family members, services providers, and the community in response to specific requests. Information about benefits, services, and options provided by local, state and national organizations is provided in a format accessible to the individual making the request. Information is available on a variety of disability related subjects such as the ADA, advocacy, daily living skills, housing, recreation, etc. IA staff has expertise and experience with Social Security Benefits, Vocational and Community Services from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Mass. Health, Housing Authorities, Elder Services, and others. Our Resource Coordinators work with consumers to design and implement their own personal plan for independence.
AdvocacyTwo different types of advocacy are provided: Self Advocacy and Community/Systems Advocacy.
- Self Advocacy involves teaching a person how to obtain goals identified in their personal independent living plan for themselves. Issues could include overcoming the barriers to finding affordable, available, accessible housing, transportation, accessing healthcare or education. At IA, we encourage consumers to be assertive, articulate and effective when faced with obstacles to independent living. When needed, IA staff support an individual's rights in their community by assisting in the filing of complaints and guidance towards necessary steps to remove illegal barriers or other obstacles faced while obtaining services.
- Community and Systems Advocacy is the development and revision of policies that promote accessibility through the removal of discriminating practices. It includes working with municipalities, businesses and service providers to address discrimination and barriers in our society and to enforce compliance with existing laws.
Many of the staff members at IA are people with disabilities and can provide peer support utilizing their understanding of the independent living program and their personal experiences. They are able to assist establishing emotional support, skills development, information and resource sharing to help facilitate self exploration and understanding. Peer support is provided one on one in a consumer directed manner. Support can be provided over the phone, in person at our office, or meeting somewhere in the community in a location agreed upon by the consumer such as the local library or a coffee shop that is accessible to meet.
Independent Living Skills
Independent living skills training is focused on consumer skills development. This development includes empowerment of the individual with a disability to solve their own problems and achieve their personal goals. Some skills relate to personal growth, others relate to learning more about how to handle and navigate services and responsibilities. Topics of skills training may include daily living skills, health and nutrition, assistive technology, mobility, transportation, resource management, etc., based on what the consumer requests.
Transition comes in more than one flavor. Our team assists people with disabilities transitioning from nursing homes or other institutionalized settings into the community as well as youth transitioning from school life to adulthood. Regardless of the type of transition, each consumer works with a member of our Independent Living team to learn the skills necessary for navigating the path to independence. Our team works with consumers individually addressing the relevant concerns leading to a safe and successful transition.