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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS: 2023 Annual Conference on Independent Living

Dear Friends of NCIL,

The 2023 Annual Conference on Independent Living is scheduled for July 24-27, 2023, at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

Committed volunteers are critical to this conference’s success. We have wonderful incentives for those who put in volunteer hours.

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2023 NCIL Advocacy Awards

Each year, NCIL recognizes individuals and / or organizations for outstanding advocacy efforts.

Nominees do not have to be a member of NCIL. In the event that the winner is not a member of NCIL, upon receiving the award, they will receive a free one-year individual NCIL membership.

You must be a NCIL member to nominate someone for an award. The deadline to nominate for a NCIL Advocacy Award is May 29, 2023.

Awards will be announced during NCIL’s 2023 Annual Conference on Independent Living (

Diana Viets Memorial Award

Diana was an energetic young woman with a disability who dedicated her life to empowering young people with disabilities to take an active role in the Independent Living movement. Through her work at a Center for Independent Living and the NCIL Board, Diana touched the lives of many youth with disabilities. NCIL wants to acknowledge, honor, and encourage our young leaders who are promoting disability pride, spreading Independent Living philosophy, and fostering the active participation of youth with disabilities in the disability rights movement.

Eligibility: Individuals eligible for this award should be young adults whose work through Independent Living has had a positive impact on youth with disabilities.

Judy Heumann Advocacy Award

Judy was a fierce advocate who dedicated her life to disability rights and independent living. From the Section 504 Sit-In of 1977 to serving in multiple Presidential Administrations, Judy tirelessly pursued disability rights legislation at the national and international level. She was instrumental in the passing of multiple policies and laws including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and was a founding member of the National Council on Independent Living. Often considered the “Mother of the Disability Rights Movement”, Judy led our movement with grace and strength. With this award, NCIL will honor Judy’s advocacy legacy and encourage all to continue fighting for independent living rights, inclusion, and disability justice.  

Eligibility: Individuals eligible for nomination are those who have proven to be instrumental advocates in the Independent Living Movement and disability justice community in the past decade at a national level. This awardee will be nominated by the membership of the National Council on Independent Living and if multiple nominations are received, the final awardee will be chosen by NCIL’s Executive Director. Nominees do not have to be a member of NCIL. In the event that the winner is not a member of NCIL, upon receiving the award, he or she will receive a free one-year individual NCIL membership.

IL-NET T&TA Center for Independent Living Presents… A National Webinar: Intergenerational Peer Support

May 17, 2023; 3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern

Register online or email [email protected] for more information.

En Español abajo.

The IL-NET National Training & Technical Assistance (T&TA) Center operated by ILRU in collaboration with NCIL, APRIL, and the University of Montana Rural Institute and RTC: Rural, supports CILs and SILCs in building capacity to run strong, effective organizations. This webinar will be a panel discussion that will highlight varied approaches and strategies to intergenerational peer support. Specifically, panelists will describe their views on what intergenerational peer support is and how they practice it effectively, the value of intergenerational peer support, and best practices to making connections across generations outside of specific events like conferences or trainings.

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Message from NCIL’s President and Vice President: NCIL Advocacy Committee Restructuring

May 3, 2023

Dear NCIL Members,

We want to express our gratitude for the years of advocacy and support for the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL).

As you may recall, the NCIL Board held a two-day retreat last fall as we prepared to advertise for a new Executive Director and to prioritize activities for the next five years. As part of the recommendations from our consultant, we were asked to consider how we can best balance our limited staff and financial resources within our advocacy department.

While reviewing the incredible amount of work being accomplished through the NCIL Subcommittees, the Board made some broad-sweeping recommendations to focus our efforts so that we can become more efficient on areas that directly impact our membership of Centers for Independent Living (CILs). Key areas of Rehabilitation Act / IL Funding, Housing, Transportation, ADA / Civil Rights, and Healthcare / Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) will remain as the core of NCIL’s emphasis. So that we can continue to provide support to all areas, we will be consolidating issues within these NCIL Subcommittees so that we can be much more efficient in meeting goals, objectives, and outcomes. All issues will have a greater opportunity for much more support and coordination of efforts.

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Make Nominations for the NCIL Board of Directors by May 19, 2023!

Dear NCIL Members:

NCIL will hold virtual elections for our Governing Board positions this year. NCIL members have an opportunity to nominate an individual to run for each of the following positions on the NCIL Board:

  • President,
  • Treasurer, 
  • three Member-At-Large positions, and
  • Representatives of Regions I, III, V, VII, IX (1, 3, 5, 7 & 9):

If you or someone you know would be interested in running for the NCIL Board, please fill out the nomination form:

Please carefully review the position descriptions and memorandum (, as it will help in considering potential nominees. Also, make sure to share these resources with the individual you are nominating so that they have a clear understanding of what will be expected should they be elected.

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Join NCIL April 26 for A Regional IL Showcase!

Independent Living Regional Showcase. Graphic features stage lighting.
Independent Living Regional Showcase. Graphic features stage lighting.

April 26, 2023; 3:00 – 4:00pm Eastern

Register online or email [email protected] for more information

A forum to meet NCIL’s Regional Representatives and learn what CIL and SILC peers are accomplishing

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is conducting a recurring virtual forum in which NCIL’s 10 Regional Representatives will showcase the successes and accomplishments of CILs and SILCs in their regions. NCIL’s Regional Representatives are members of NCIL’s Governing Board and are elected from among the NCIL members in their respective regions.  


This third forum features Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands) and Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington), but all regions are invited. The forums are open to all NCIL members, all CILs and SILCs, and all IL associations.

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A Message from Theo Braddy: Why We Are Stuck

Listen to the audio version of this message

Hi, this is Theo Braddy, the Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). I wanted to share a few things with you that have been on my mind and I’m calling this “Why we are stuck”.

I have been pondering why we, the Independent Living Movement and other disability-led organizations and associations, are not working together as we should be, and so far, this is what I came up with.

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Memorandum: Call for Resolutions

The purpose of resolutions is for members to speak directly to what NCIL does and what NCIL stands for. A resolution, if adopted by the membership, is a formal opinion from NCIL or a commitment to taking action on a specific topic.

Resolutions must be received by May 31, 2023.

The President will appoint a task force to review all resolutions to determine their impact on each of the following areas:

  • NCIL’s Mission & Guiding Principles: Is the proposed resolution consistent / compatible? Is the proposed resolution national in scope?
  • NCIL’s Resources: Can NCIL implement the proposed resolution’s intent with current financial and staff resources?
  • NCIL’s Governance: Does the proposed resolution require any significant changes to NCIL’s Bylaws or Standard Operating Procedures?

The resolution task force will provide the NCIL Board with a one-page summary of the resolution and the potential impact in each area. The NCIL Board will make a recommendation to the membership to adopt or reject the resolution. The recommendation shall be in writing with a brief statement explaining the rationale for the Board’s recommendation. All resolutions, including a brief statement with the Board’s recommendation, will be included in the ballot sent to NCIL members.

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IL-NET T&TA Center for Independent Living Presents… A National Webinar: Serving Cross-Disability Populations

March 29, 2023; 3:00 – 4:30 PM EST

Register online ( or email [email protected] for more information.

En español abajo

The IL-NET National Training & Technical Assistance (T&TA) Center, operated by ILRU in collaboration with NCIL, APRIL, and the University of Montana Rural Institute and RTC: Rural, supports CILs and SILCs in building capacity to run strong, effective organizations. This webinar will be a discussion highlighting varied approaches and strategies surrounding serving cross-disability populations. Specifically, presenters will review information regarding website and digital content accessibility, serving Spanish-speaking individuals with disabilities, and serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) communities.

Registration Fee: This event is free-of-charge.

Target Audience:

  • Executive directors, program managers, and staff members of Centers for Independent Living, Statewide Independent Living Councils, and individuals with disabilities

What you will Learn:

  • Describe strategies to make digital resources more accessible for cross-disability populations.
  • Identify best practices for serving and making accommodations for Spanish-speaking individuals with disabilities, specifically those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Describe the culture of and best practices to serve Deaf and HoH communities.


Sarah Massengale serves as Able SC’s Community Access Specialist, where she assists in the preparation of accessible documents, helps facilitate accessibility trainings, and works to ensure that websites and other digital content are accessible and inclusive. Born totally blind, Sarah has always been willing and quick to speak up when she encountered inaccessibility, though her deep interest in disability rights and creating equality in the digital sphere has only fully developed over the past few years.

Genesis Garcia Lezama (She/Her/Ella) is the Peer and Transition Services Coach at Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL). Ms. Lezama has a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science concentration in Physical Therapy, a minor in Psychology and is currently in the Master’s program of Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Throughout her volunteer efforts with different local organizations that advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Genesis has found passion in learning about advocacy and laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. Genesis believes in training individuals to become the best version of themselves to reach their full potential. She strives to promote independence, equality, and advocacy for all individuals. With 3 years of professional experience, working with people with disabilities of different ages and of a variety of disabilities, Genesis has provided training in independence and vocational skills, self-advocacy, and civil rights.

Brooke Velarde-Hernandez was born Deaf and raised in Edinburg, Texas, where she currently resides. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the Rehabilitation Program – Concertation to Deaf Studies at UTRGV. She is currently taking Clinical Rehabilitation Counselor courses in the master’s program there. She has been working at Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL) as a manager of Deaf Services & Independent Living Program in Rio Grande Valley and South Texas for many years.

Presented by the IL-NET: The IL-NET National Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Center for Independent Living is operated by ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization). The IL-NET T&TA Center provides training and technical assistance to centers for independent living and statewide independent living councils. The IL-NET is supported by grant numbers 90ILTA0002 and 90ISTA0002 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.

IL-NET T&TA Centro para la Vida Independiente presenta… Un Seminario Web Nacional: Sirviendo A Poblaciones Con Discapacidades Cruzadas

29 de marzo de 2023; 3:00 – 4:30 PM EST

Regístrese en línea ( o envíe un correo electrónico [email protected] para obtener más información.

Read more: IL-NET T&TA Center for Independent Living Presents… A National Webinar: Serving Cross-Disability Populations

El Centro Nacional de Capacitación y Asistencia Técnica (T&TA) de IL-NET, operado por ILRU en colaboración con NCIL, APRIL y el Instituto Rural de la Universidad de Montana y RTC: Rural, apoya a los CIL y SILC en la creación de capacidad para dirigir organizaciones fuertes y efectivas. Este seminario web será una discusión que destacará diversos enfoques y estrategias en torno al servicio a las poblaciones con discapacidades cruzadas. Específicamente, los presentadores revisarán la información sobre la accesibilidad del sitio web y el contenido digital, sirviendo a personas con discapacidades de habla hispana y sirviendo a las comunidades sordas y con dificultades auditivas (HoH).

Cuota de Inscripción: Este evento es gratuito.

Objetivo de Captura de Audencia:

  1. Directores ejecutivos, gerentes de programas y miembros del personal de los Centros para la Vida Independiente, los Consejos Estatales de Vida Independiente y las personas con discapacidades

Lo que aprenderás:

  1. Describir estrategias para hacer que los recursos digitales sean más accesibles para las poblaciones con discapacidades cruzadas.
  2. Identificar las mejores prácticas para servir y hacer adaptaciones para las personas de habla hispana con discapacidades, específicamente aquellas con discapacidades intelectuales y del desarrollo.
  3. Describir la cultura y las mejores prácticas para servir a las comunidades sordas y con dificultades auditivas.


Sarah Massengale se desempeña como Especialista en Acceso a la Comunidad de Able SC, donde ayuda en la preparación de documentos accesibles, ayuda a facilitar capacitaciones de accesibilidad y trabaja para garantizar que los sitios web y otros contenidos digitales sean accesibles e inclusivos. Nacida totalmente ciega, Sarah siempre ha estado dispuesta y rápida para hablar cuando se encontró con la inaccesibilidad, aunque su profundo interés en los derechos de las personas con discapacidad y la creación de igualdad en la esfera digital solo se ha desarrollado completamente en los últimos años..

Genesis Garcia Lezama (She/Her/Ella) es la entrenadora de servicios de transición y pares en Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL). La Sra. Lezama tiene una licenciatura en Ciencias del Ejercicio con concentración en Terapia Física, una especialización en Psicología y actualmente se encuentra en el programa de Maestría en Consejería de Rehabilitación Clínica en la Universidad de Texas Rio Grande Valley. A lo largo de sus esfuerzos voluntarios con diferentes organizaciones locales que abogan por los derechos de las personas con discapacidades, Genesis ha encontrado pasión en aprender sobre la defensa y las leyes que protegen los derechos de las personas con discapacidades. Genesis cree en entrenar a las personas para que se conviertan en la mejor versión de sí mismas para alcanzar su máximo potencial. Ella se esfuerza por promover la independencia, la igualdad y la defensa de todas las personas. Con 3 años de experiencia profesional, trabajando con personas con discapacidades de diferentes edades y de una variedad de discapacidades, Genesis ha brindado capacitación en independencia y habilidades vocacionales, autodefensa y derechos civiles..

Brooke Velarde-Hernández nació sorda y se crió en Edinburg, Texas, donde reside actualmente. Se graduó con una licenciatura en el Programa de Rehabilitación – Concertación a Estudios de Sordos en UTRGV. Actualmente está tomando cursos de Consejera de Rehabilitación Clínica en el programa de maestría allí. Ella ha estado trabajando en Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL) como gerente del Programa de Servicios para Sordos y Vida Independiente en el Valle del Río Grande y el sur de Texas durante muchos años.

Presentado por IL-NET: El Centro Nacional de Capacitación y Asistencia Técnica (T&TA) para la Vida Independiente de IL-NET es operado por ILRU (Utilización de Investigación de Vida Independiente). El Centro IL-NET T&TA proporciona capacitación y asistencia técnica a los centros para la vida independiente y los consejos estatales de vida independiente. El IL-NET está respaldado por los números de subvención 90ILTA0002 y 90ISTA0002 de la Administración de los Estados Unidos para la Vida Comunitaria, Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos, Washington, DC 20201. Se alienta a los concesionarios que emprendan proyectos bajo el patrocinio del gobierno a expresar libremente sus hallazgos y conclusiones. Por lo tanto, los puntos de vista u opiniones no representan necesariamente la política oficial de la Administración para la Vida Comunitaria.


NCIL Mourns the Passing of Judy Heumann

The National Council on Independent Living is heartbroken to learn of the passing of NCIL co-founder Judy Heumann. We have lost a pioneer in the disability community and the Independent Living Movement, and the world will not be the same without our beloved friend and colleague.

Judy was a founding member of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, the first CIL in the United States. Along with Ed Roberts and so many others, she helped launch the Independent Living Movement.

[Read more…]