Independent Living



Where can I get more help or information?



Disability Rights UK works to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions can participate equally as full citizens.  Achieving independent living for all disabled people is an integral part of Disability Rights UK work. People have different concepts of what independent living means to them. This fact sheet will provide you some basic information in respect to Disability Rights UK views on independent living, the routes to achieve independent living, and the means by which disabled people can have greater choice and control over their lives.

Disability Rights UK believes that all disabled people should be able to choose to live independent life-styles with dignity. This does not mean that disabled people necessarily need to live on their own or live without any support. In fact, Independent Living empowers you to have greater choice and control in directing your own life, having the same range of choices as a non-disabled person to make informed decisions about any practical support you require to go about your everyday life. It is living independently without the dependency created by institutions.

For many years disabled people have viewed the term independent living as choice and control over their own lives, and Disability Rights UK endorses this approach.  Such approach aims at enabling disabled people to move out from institutions, be equal citizens with rights, live an ordinary life (rather than living in institutions) and positively participating in mainstream society.

Disabled People will undoubtedly have different journeys and different experiences in achieving independent living, and many disabled people will experience many barriers to independent living. Disability Rights UK works to eliminate such barriers to full and equal participation in society by empowering disabled people to make decisions concerning their living arrangements.

Disability Rights UK believes in the “Social Model of Disability”. The Social Model of Disability explains how society often prevents disabled people from having real choice and control in achieving independent living. Society often excludes disabled people and fails to include them in full economic, social and cultural lives. This is because of the way our society is built and the way society functions, the ‘disabling’ attitudes of individuals, the way services are developed and the criteria to which these services are accessed. 

Originally the Disabled People’s Movement considered seven different themes (See A SOCIAL BARRIERS MODEL OF DISABILITY: THEORY INTO PRACTICE The Emergence of the "Seven Needs" Ken Davies – February 1990), which if addressed would achieve independent living options.

Further themes have now been added to these original seven and are often referred to as the “Pillars of Independent Living”, or the “12 basic rights of disabled people” (See Spectrum CIL – The 12 Basic Rights ).These are:

  1. Appropriate and Accessible Information
  2. An adequate income
  3. Appropriate and accessible health and social care provisions
  4. A fully-accessible transport system
  5. Full access to the environment
  6. Adequate provision of technical aids and equipment
  7. Availability of accessible and adapted housing
  8. Adequate provision of personal assistance
  9. Availability of inclusive education and training
  10. Equal opportunities for employment
  11. Availability of independent advocacy and self- advocacy
  12. Availability of peer counselling

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities outlines the Articles which support independent living and the key message of the Convention is that:

  • The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities says that disabled people have the same rights as everyone else.
  • Government and public organizations must work together to make sure disabled people get the rights listed in the Convention.
  • Disabled people and their organizations can use the Convention to help make changes and ensure that disabled people get their rights.

Disabled People often have the solutions to the barriers they experience in accessing independent living and choice and control over their lives. There are Disabled People Organizations (DPO’s) / Centres for Independent Living (CIL’s) across the UK who can support you and advise you of your rights. To find out more about an organization in your local area that is run and controlled by disabled people check out Disability Rights UK membership on

Organizations run and controlled by disabled people in your area may be able to support you to have more choice and control in your life and support your journey to independent living. 



Where can I get more help or information?

This factsheet is a basic overview of independent living. We have other publications concerned with independent living in our shop at You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.

For further help and information please contact our Advice Line- 0330 995 0404.

You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our resource ‘Getting Advice’.

All our factsheets are free to download on our website at

28 August 2014


Equality & Rights Participation