Principal Features of Independent Living

Consumer control over policy and management decisions

Persons with disabilities control decisions governing organizational policies and procedures, the provision of services, and community activities.

Consumer control over service objectives and methods

This aspect of independent living services places primary responsibility for identifying service needs, setting independent living goals and objectives, and making decisions about service participation with the person (consumer) who is receiving services.

Cross-disability emphasis

Independent living emphasizes responsiveness to the needs of all persons wtih disabilities. This separates the independent living program from those which emphasize services to a particular disability group.

Community-based and community responsive

Independent living centers are designed to be responsible and accessible to the disability community in their service locale and to significantly involve the community in setting program priorities.

Peer role modeling

The emphasis on peer role modeling in independent living reflects a belief that persons with disabilities can greatly benefit from the perspectives and support of their peers who have successfully achieved meaningful, productive lives in their communities.

Provision of a range of services

Independent living is responsive to various consumer needs for knowledge, skills, options, and support associated with achieving personal independence. A range of services is provided. These include such services as attendant care services, housing services, transportation services, educational services, vocational services, equipment services, communication services, legal services, and social/recreational services.

An emphasis on community advocacy

Independent living recognizes that in order for persons with disabilities to achieve independent lifestyles, environmental and social barriers in the community must be eliminated. There is thus a dual commitment to both individual services and community advocacy activities conducted to enhance opportunities for persons with disabilities to have equal access to all aspects of community life and to achieve meaningful integration into society.

Open and ongoing access to services

Independent living services are open and available to persons with disabilities on an ongoing basis, reflecting their ongoing and continuing needs and interests.

Aging and Disability Resource Consortium (ADRC)

CORD and Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands have joined together to form the ADRC of Cape Cod and the Islands, a "no wrong door" point of service for people with disabilities and elders on the Cape and Islands.

The Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD) has been aggressively working since 1984 to advance the independence, productivity, and integration of people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people, into mainstream society.

You may want to contact CORD if:


  • You want to learn more about your disabled child's educational rights;
  • You are a disabled adult needing information on vocational rehabilitation, Social Security, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, or the PCA program;
  • You are an individual, a community agency, or a business in need of technical assistance regarding the ADA;
  • You or a family member want to leave an institution, such as a nursing home, to pursue a more independent life.

CORD Members Work on Systemic Advocacy Issues

Among many victories, CORD has helped to establish the CommonHealth insurance program, battled in Washington for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and has been in the forefront of campaigns for improved PCA services, the creation of the PCA Workforce Council, accessible transportation, and affordable and accessible housing, including establishment of the state's Home Modification program.

CORD members regularly speak out for affordable housing access to health care and communications, and equal rights in education.

Community Services

CORD provides free presentations and technical assistance on disability rights and laws to businesses, organizations, and the general public.

Topics may include:


  • the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • assistive technology
  • disability awareness
  • personal care attendants (PCA's)
  • and other disability-related issues.