Removing Barriers

Through Access Living’s Deinstitutionalization program, people with disabilities transition out of institutions into their own apartments. Here, members of the Access Living Team celebrate a successful move into the community.
In the winter, snow can be a serious barrier to mobility and independence.

Access Living

A center for independent living that serves Chicago, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully–engaged and self–directed lives.

Join Us!

Though we are proud of our work, barriers to independence still exist in Chicago and around the country.

No matter who we are, each of us can play a part in removing barriers. The more barriers we remove, the more inclusive a community we create for people with and without disabilities.

What We Can Do Together

Here are a few things that each of us, on an individual level and on an organizational level, can do to remove barriers.

  1. If you or your organization publishes materials – menus, applications, forms, flyers, etc –– make those materials available in alternative format – Braille, large print, fillable forms, etc..
  2. Make your website accessible to users with disabilities.
  3. Include close captions on public and organization videos.
  4. In the winter time during heavy snow, make sure that the sidewalk in front of your home or business has a clear path for people who use wheelchairs and who have other types of disabilities.
  5. Use your dollar power! Support businesses that are physically and programmatically accessible to people with disabilities.
  6. If you don't need an accessible parking spot, an accessible movie seat, or an accessible bathroom stall, leave it open for someone who will need it.
  7. Language makes a big difference. Persons with disabilities are people first and preferred to be addressed that way. Avoid using negative connotations such as the r–word and encourage others to do the same.

Those are some things that each of us can do to help remove barriers, and to create a stronger, more inclusive community. We hope you join in the effort to remove barriers for people with disabilities.

Support Us

In addition to doing your part to remove barriers, if you'd like to support Access Living, and our work to remove barriers, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Donate to Access Living
  2. Like us on Facebook
  3. Follow us on Twitter
  4. Subscribe to our newsletter
  5. Support the Marathon Team
  6. Visit our headquarters on Chicago Avenue and tour the building
  7. Tell us what you think about barriers on our blog coversation.

Here is what we have done

Since opening in 1980, Access Living has tried to do its part to remove barriers. Below are a few highlights that share what Access Living has done in Chicago and around the country:

In partnership with Equip for Equality and the ACLU of Illinois, we represented people with disabilities in three class action cases. When implemented, the settlements will give thousands of people with disabilities the choice to move from institutions into small community–based settings with the supports necessary to live independently.

Through education policy and advocacy efforts, we have helped increased the accessibility of Chicago Public Schools and have helped preserve millions of dollars in special education funding.

We have created and maintained support groups for people with all types of disabilities. The groups give people with disabilities the chance to share experiences and stories with their peers, and develop strategies for addressing social and physical barriers.

Access Living played a key role in education, advocacy, and litigation efforts to make Chicago mainline public transportation more accessible to people with disabilities. Today, 100 percent of mainline buses are equipped with lifts.

Access Living established the first fair housing model program in the United States to address disability discrimination under the Fair Housing Amendments Act.

Access Living partnered with the City of Chicago to expand accessibility guidelines in the Chicago Building Code.

Access Living worked with the Chicago Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to improve services to immigrants with disabilities.

After working with Access Living, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Bears began to provide open–captioning at Soldier Field.

Contact Us

Those are just a few examples of Access Living accomplishments. Thank you so much for interest and your efforts to help remove barriers.

Feel free to contact us to schedule a visit or for more information.

Gary Arnold
Public Affairs Manager