Thompson Center
The Advocacy Department at Access Living

Access Living is the Center for Independent Living for the city of Chicago. We run advocacy and independent living programs to support people with disabilities live the lives we want to live. The majority of our staff, leadership and board are people with disabilities, reflecting our core value of consumer control–––nothing about us without us!

Our Advocacy Department works in collaboration with our Independent Living Department and Legal Department to create real options and freedom for self–determination of people with all kinds of disabilities. While our independent living services provide individual and peer group support in navigating life issues, our advocacy work creates systemic and community opportunities to protect and exercise our human rights.

The Advocacy Department is divided
into two main areas of action:

Community Development and Organizing (CDO) : Our CDO team is dedicated to developing the leadership of grassroots people with disabilities and working through community organizing to fight for social change.

Staff contact: Beto Barrera, Manager of Community Development, (312) 640–2111 or (se habla Español).

Policy Analysis : Our Policy Team experts monitor, craft and respond to policies, regulations, programs and legislation that affect the disability community.

Staff contact: Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy, (312) 640–2191 or

We also work to partner with our fellow disability organizations throughout Chicago and across the state of Illinois. Over the last thirty years, Access Living's staff have created social change for disability rights at the local, state, national and even international levels. We are proud to continue to set the advocacy agenda to support the freedom and power of people with disabilities.
Beto Barrera
Manager - Community Development
Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy

Community Organizing

Community Organizing staff work to eliminate barriers to economic opportunity faced by people with disabilities.Learn More

Advocacy -- Take Action Now

Fight for Independence

Support advocacy initiatives of Access Living and the Disability Community. Learn More