Underserved Populations Served by Centers for Independent Living


Centers for independent living historically have provided an effective service system to assist adults with significant physical or sensory disabilities living in the community.

Purpose and Anticipated Benefits

As centers have matured, their service systems have expanded to all people with disabilities, including those of different cultures, non-English speakers, rural residents, people with multiple disabilities, and the elderly. This study set out to learn more about the expanding center for independent living population.


Susan Parker-Price, Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, worked with center for independent living staff across the United States to learn more about the diversity of their populations served.




The survey listed 15 categories of services or activities including staff training on cultural or specific disabilities or in languages, such as American Sign Language or Spanish.


Centers for independent living across the country serve an average of four cultural populations. As to whether minority groups were being served properly, Parker-Price found that most center services were in the planning stages. The most reported activity for underserved populations was "specific consumer service," for instance, mentoring, peer support, and support groups. Centers also commonly reported that they worked with organizations or leaders of underserved populations. Barriers to providing outreach services to underserved populations were lack of finances, training, and personnel.


Parker-Price, S. (2000, Winter). Survey focuses on underserved populations. Independent Living Forum 9(1) [newsletter article].