Independent Living philosophy significantly differs from this traditional medical model/rehabilitation paradigm. The medical or rehabilitation paradigm defines disability as a defect in the individual. This way of looking at a disability centers on a medical professional who intervenes in the person’s life. This inevitably leads to a social role for the person with a disability as a powerless patient who is dependent on the experts for direction and decisions. Most people in this situation either never gain control or lose any control they did have. Expectations by professionals are generally low in terms of the person with a disability holding a job or living a constructive life.
The problem has been that people with disabilities are often dependent on others to make decisions about their lives.
Independent Living means controlling what is done in your life and making your own decisions. The problem lies in the environmental, social, and economic barriers that people face.
The solutions are civil rights protections, removal of barriers, and strong advocacy efforts to make change happen.
The desired outcome is a person who controls his or her own life, has opportunities comparable to other citizens, participates in the community as they wish, and who has economic security.