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Independent Living

Independent Living
The Arts
Mental Health Support for Students Transitioning to Adulthood in Florida
Leisure and Recreation
Transition Topic Areas
Independent Living
Health Care Transition
Head and Spinal Cord Injuries

Independent living has been defined as:

1.  A living arrangement that maximizes independence and self-determination, especially for a person with a disability living in a community instead of in a medical facility

2.  A social movement that asserts that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights and life choices as people without disabilities.        

The supports needed by a person with disabilities in the area of independent living will vary from person to person and community to community.  However, support needs can be organized around housing options, transportation, social and recreational activities, shopping and financial management, health and safety and self-determination. Some people with disabilities may need Personal Assistance Services (PAS) which may include job-related and/or personal services (NCWD/Youth, 2010). 

Secondary Level

Independent Living Skills Curricula
There are many commercially produced products that will assist with the education of students with disabilities in the areas of shopping and financial management, health and safety, self-determination, and accessing and using public transportation, social, and recreational facilities.  The most frequently used curricula materials in the State of Florida are:

Life Centered Education (LCE)
Life Centered Education (LCE) Transition Curriculum is a comprehensive functional curriculum based on classroom, home, and community environments and is useful for elementary school through high school, including general education students; students with learning disabilities; students with mild mental disabilities; and students at risk.

Targeted Life Skills Curriculum
The Targeted LIFE Skills Curriculum was aligned with both the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the Florida Department of Education's Sunshine State Standards and State Standards for Special Diploma, 2004.  This curriculum is useful for elementary school through high school, including students with intellectual disabilities. 

Money Smart for Young Adults – A Financial Education Program
The FDIC’s Money Smart for Young Adults curriculum helps youth ages 12-20 learn the basics of handling their money and finances, including how to create positive relationships with financial institutions. Equipping young people in their formative years with the basics of financial education can give them the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to manage their finances once they enter the real world.

Six Steps to Creating a Financial Literacy Program in Your Classroom or Transition Program

Are you interested in creating a financial literacy program in your classroom? The National Disability Institute offers a free guide to help create a financial literacy program for students with disabilities. 

The Transitions Curriculum 
This three-volume curriculum was extensively field-tested in California. It includes 300 teacher-developed and tested lessons, complete with 1500 sequenced "real life" objectives, exciting hands-on student activities, and 600 reproducible student worksheets and student self-assessments every five units. The product was designed with flexibility in mind -- instruction can be undertaken with individual units in a two-week period or expanded for a full two-year program.

Health and Safety
Two of the curricula listed above also include sections on health and safety.  Some of the topics included are:

·         Emergency Preparation

·         Fire Safety

·         First Aid

·         Food Storage

·         Nutrition

·         Personal hygiene

In addition, information regarding health care and use of medications can be found at the State of Florida Department of Health website,  This site also provides contact information for each of Florida’s school districts.  Another beneficial website for adolescents with disabilities is Children’s Medical Services,  This website contains information pertinent to adolescents transitioning from the pediatric child care system to the adult medical system.

The possession of self-determination skills is an integral part of the ability of a person with disabilities to have any level of independent living. For more information, see the A-Z Library entry on Self-Determination.

Postsecondary Level

Housing Options
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) ( provides eligible consumers with varying levels of supported living.  Supported living with personal control means that persons with disabilities not only determine where they want to live, but with whom they want to live, and who enters their home for whatever reason.

Residential Options of Florida (ROOF) empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to successfully obtain and maintain affordable and inclusive housing of their choice. 

The Florida Department of Transportation has established a Transportation Disadvantaged Commission which provides low cost transportation to persons with disabilities in every county in the State of Florida (  Access to transportation is a critical component of all areas (work, continuing education, recreation/leisure, shopping, health care) of independent living. Click on "Transportation" in the Categories column at the upper right for more information and resources.  

Rights and Responsibilities
Independent Living Centers are typically non-residential, private, non-profit, consumer-controlled, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for persons with all types of disabilities. Their goal is to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential within their families and communities.

Also, Independent Living Centers serve as a strong advocacy voice on a wide range of national, state and local issues. They work to assure physical and programmatic access to housing, employment, transportation, communities, recreational facilities, and health and social services. Information regarding Independent Living Centers in Florida may be found at:

Social and Recreational Activities
Paul Wehman, in his book Life Beyond the Classroom, has given the following guidelines for helping persons with disabilities develop leisure activities of their own choosing:

·         Persons with disabilities should experiment with different types of recreational pursuits and social events in order to develop preferences

·         Leisure activities should include an array of both solitary and group activities

·         Adapted equipment or rules can be used as leisure supports for people with disabilities to participate in activities with non-disabled peers

·         Persons with disabilities may choose to participate in segregated activities; however, this should not be their only choice.

For information on organizations that offer social and recreational programs for persons/students with disabilities while in a secondary or postsecondary setting, click on "Leisure and Recreation: in the Categories box to the above right. 


Agency for Persons with Disabilities
This website provides information on Florida housing resources for people with disabilities, including for those with low incomes who are eligible to receive rental assistance from various programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through local housing authorities. This website features planning resources related to housing assistance for people with disabilities.

Beach Center on Disabilities 

Career Source Florida 

Center for Parent Information and Resources 

Children's Medical Services (CMS)

Department of Education, Parents 

Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs' (OSEP's) IDEA website 

Department of Transportation, Accessibility
This page provides resources on transportation for people with disabilities as well as useful links as well as laws and regulations relating to people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Florida 

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities
This portion of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Website offers resources and information specifically tailored for people with disabilities and their families to help prepare for emergencies through providing information on preparedness planning, evacuation and shelters.

The Family Cafe 

Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living (FACIL)
Established in 1990, the Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living (FACIL) is a capacity building advocacy organization that provides support and resource development for 15 Centers for Independent Living (CILs) throughout Florida. CILS are 501(c)(3), community-based, non-profit agencies that empower persons with disabilities to move from dependence to independence.

Florida Board of Governors, State University System, Services for Students with Disabilities 

Florida Colleges, Disability Support Services

Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged
The mission of the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantages is to insure the availability of efficient, cost--effective, and quality transportation services for transportation disadvantaged persons. This site provides links to Community Transportation Coordinator Contact Information by County as well as other useful links relating to public transportation.

Florida Consortium on Postsecondary Education and Intellectual Disabilities, Independent Living Shared Resources
The independent living section of this website provides information on daily living needs including budgeting, health and safety, housing, personal care and hygiene as well as transportation.

Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services

The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council

Florida Division of Blind Services

Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 

Florida Network on Disabilities (FND) Statewide Parent Center  

FYI Transition 

Legal Guide for New Adults  

Let's Go - A Guide to Getting Around Your Community in Florida
This publication, developed by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, provides county-by-county transportation information, including specific services in Florida.

Lighting the Way to Guardianship and Other Decision-Making Alternatives: A Manual for Individuals and Families (2010) 
This manual is published by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) that aims to increase the knowledge of individuals with disabilities and their families about the various ways under Florida law to provide decision-making assistance, including guardian advocacy and guardianship. How to access the legal system, when necessary, is also addressed in the manual. A companion manual for attorneys and other qualified legal professionals was also created and is available to assist the legal community. 

Planning Ahead 
This publication, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC), covers many important topics for young adults such as using government benefits, estate planning and legal ways of protecting rights, among others. 

The Red Book - A Guide to Work Incentives 

Research and Training Center on Independent Living
The Research and Training Center on Independent Living is made up of a team committed to research that can be used to enhance independent living for people with disabilities. The center is based at The University of Kansas and collaborates with researchers at other universities and professionals at a variety of other disability organizations.

Residential Options of Florida (ROOF)                                                                  

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Social Security Benefits Planner

Social Security Benefits for People with Disabilities
The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. This webpage provides information on Social Security programs, eligibility, applying for benefits and appealing benefits denials.
This website offers information and resources to helping people access affordable housing and supportive services. Services and housing are searchable by state, county and city. 

Social Security Area Work Incentive Coordinators for North and South Florida

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) 

Work Force Education, Career and Adult Education Programs 


The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth; HeiTech Services, Inc.; & Concepts, Inc. (2010). Making the move to managing your own Personal Assistance Services (PAS): A toolkit for youth with disabilities transitioning to adulthood.  Washington DC: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. Available at  

Wehman, P. (1996). Life Beyond the classroom, transition strategies for young people with disabilities. (2nd Ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.




The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

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