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Redefining Freedom for People Living With A Disability

Blog Header: Redefining Freedom for people living with a disability

For people with disabilities, achieving autonomy and freedom can feel impossible at times. The basics that some can take for granted, such as a morning routine, commute to work, social relationships, and access to education are can often be out of reach for some adults with disabilities. Many of these individuals are not aware of the accommodations that are available to them for overcoming these hurdles. At the Progressive Center for Independent Living (PCIL) we are dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities to live independently. Our approach redefines freedom by directly addressing barriers to autonomy and providing resources to our community to overcome each one. In this post, we hope to outline the challenges to freedom adults with disabilities face, along with the tools, practices, services, and accommodations that they can take advantage of to redefine freedom for themselves.

The names used in this post have been changed from their original names in order to protect the privacy of our clients.

Person with prosthetic leg balancing on a narrow log while her support is holding her hand for assistance.

Overcoming Barriers to Independence:

Over the years, PCIL has enabled our community to challenge the barriers to autonomy that people with disabilities face. Let's list some challenges that consumers commonly encounter, and what strategies and services they can use to overcome each one. Understanding some of these barriers is the first step we can take towards managing and overcoming them.

Redefining Freedom by Building a Social Community

Negative societal attitudes and stereotypes about disabilities can lead to discrimination and social exclusion. These barriers can often be more challenging to overcome than physical or logistical ones! For people with disabilities, finding a safe and inclusive community is crucial to overcoming certain challenges.

A photo from our peer group with 6 individuals standing, smiling, and holding some materials for the kitchen that they received during the session. The desk reads "NJ SNAP-Ed"

PCIL addresses this by educating the community through our Life Through Different Lenses Peer Support group, Recreation events, as well as awareness campaigns through social media. PCIL has events located in Mercer and Hunterdon county, open to all individuals with disabilities. We strive to change perceptions and promote understanding and acceptance. In hosting these sessions, we've made a powerful impact in our community by focusing on shared experiences, emotional support, knowledge sharing, and empowerment. Lisa, a loyal peer group member states, "I like coming back every week because it makes me feel comfortable to open up. I'm glad they agreed to continue the sessions all year because it really gives me a sense of belonging."

Achieving Financial Freedom

Limited access to employment opportunities and financial resources can hinder independence for people with disabilities. Many individuals face challenges in finding and maintaining jobs that accommodate their needs. PCIL offers job training programs, such as our Life Skills Student Programs:, to equip individuals with the skills necessary for the workforce.

Not only that, but since New Jersey is an employment first state, our Support Coordination department focuses on creating Employment-related Individualized Service plans. This is beneficial because individuals with disabilities that have a DDD budget are able to open the door to a variety of opportunities including job coaching services, day habilitation services, pre-vocational services and more from different providers that can be coordinated. Our resourceful Support Coordinators are very knowledgeable about the obstacles for employment for individuals with disabilities, and work hard to link individuals with programs and resources that are the best fit for them!

Breaking Down Barriers to Education

Inadequate educational support and accommodations can restrict academic and professional development for people with disabilities. This lack of support can lead to lower educational attainment and limited career opportunities. PCIL collaborates with educational institutions to ensure that students receive the accommodations they need to succeed. We also offer resources and guidance for pursuing higher education and vocational training. Check out all our Student Transition Services here.

Our staff and kids from school on their trip to Washington DC.

This photo shares a special trip that our Independent Living department was able to take to Washington DC with some of our students!

Leveraging Technology

Access to assistive technologies and digital resources is crucial for independence, yet many people with disabilities face challenges in obtaining these tools. Whether it's specialized software or adaptive devices, the cost and availability can be prohibitive. PCIL provides information and referral services to help individuals access the technology they need. Through Support Coordination services, individuals with disabilities can leverage their DDD budget to find agencies that provide Assistive Technology evaluations, Assistive Technology, as well as Natural Supports training when learning how to use it. Putting assistive technology to use is one step towards redefining freedom!

Expanding Opportunity Through Mobility

Transportation is a critical aspect of independence, but many people with disabilities face significant challenges in this area. Inaccessible public transit and a lack of suitable transportation options can severely limit mobility. PCIL addresses this through our DriveAbility Driving Class:, which helps individuals learn to drive using adaptive equipment. Additionally, we conduct AccessLink assessments: to assist individuals in obtaining transit services, ensuring they have reliable transportation options. Overtime, we've had a large portion of individuals that we serve that took our DMV courses and passed their drivers exam right after!

Shows a collage of 4 individuals that took PCIL's DMV course and passed their drivers exam shortly after.

By redefining freedom for people with disabilities, PCIL strives to create a world where everyone can live with dignity and independence. Our resources and support services are designed to empower individuals, break down barriers, and celebrate the achievements of our community members.

PCIL offers various services to support independent living, from advocacy and skill-building programs to support-coordination and information services. We partner with other agencies and providers to ensure that a wide variety of individualized support services are always available to our consumers. Our goal is to equip individuals with the tools they need to navigate daily life confidently, and achieve freedom in their lifestyle.

For more information on how PCIL can assist you or someone you know, please explore our website or contact us directly. Together, we can continue to redefine freedom and promote independent living for all.


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