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About CAL

The Center for Accessible Living is Kentucky’s first Independent Living Center. With offices located in Louisville, Murray, and Bowling Green, its services span the entire state of Kentucky. The Center for Accessible Living (CAL) is a private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization.


CAL is a disability rights and resource center for people with disabilities, governed by people with disabilities. Services are offered to individuals with all types of disabilities. Our experienced staff provides information, advocacy and services that create opportunities for people with disabilities to live as independently as possible.

Our Mission

The Center for Accessible Living is an innovative leader in empowering all people to achieve their goal of independent living while involving the entire community.

Our Mission

Consumer Control

Consumers (individuals with disabilities) control all aspects of the Center including decision making, service delivery, management, administration and establishment of policy and direction.

The Board of Directors, which establishes policy and direction for the Center, is composed of members from the local community, the majority of which are consumers.

A majority of the management level staff are consumers. All of the peer counselors, a majority of the direct service staff and the majority of the overall staff members are consumers.

There is a wide diversity of types of disabilities of Board and staff members including sensory, physical and cognitive categories.

The Center maintains working relationships with numerous consumer advocacy groups and organizations on the local, state and national levels. This provides an opportunity to receive additional input and feedback from consumers on the grassroots level.

To the greatest extent possible, the Center attempts to recruit and utilize volunteers, support staff and instructors who are individuals with disabilities.

Independent Living Movement

The history of the independent living movement is tied in with the African-American civil rights struggle and with other movements of the late 1960s and 1970s.

A major part of these activities involved the formation of community-based groups of people with different types of disabilities who worked together to identify barriers and gaps in service delivery. In 1972, the first Center for Independent Living was established in Berkeley, California by Ed Roberts.

The principles of IL were:

  • Experts on disabilities are the people with disabilities.

  • The needs of people with disabilities can best be met with a comprehensive program, rather than fragmented programs at different agencies and offices.

  • People with disabilities should be integrated into the community.

Central to the philosophy of the Center for Independent Living (CIL) was that it be an advocacy organization – not a social service agency.

Center for Accessible Living History

In 1979 Consensus, Inc. did a demographic and needs assessment study of physically disabled people in Jefferson County — one of the first of its kind in the country. The results, released in 1980, showed that 80,000 people in Jefferson County had disabilities — twice as many as had been thought.

In that study, people with disabilities identified housing issues — the availability of housing information, info about barrier removal/access and legal rights as the number one unmet need.

The Center for Accessible Living grew out of these findings and began operations January 1981 as a housing resource program, with a $48,600 grant from the City of Louisville’s Community Development Cabinet.

Soon we realized the problem of housing is interrelated with other problems people with disabilities face when trying to secure housing: employment (to pay for housing), transportation (to get to the job), attendant services (assistance to get your clothes on to go to the job), peer counseling (when your personal assistant is late two days in a row, making you almost miss your ride to work), just to name a few.

To address these needs we sought funds to expand our center to a comprehensive independent living center. In October 1981, Prime Movers got a $200,000 grant from the RSA, US Department of Education, and the Center became a full-fledged independent living center, providing housing information, information and referral, peer counseling, independent living skills training, personal assistive services, and advocacy.

The Center started as a dream of a few people with disabilities asking the question: What do we really need? What would really be the best solution to our problems? The Center for Accessible Living was the result of those answers.

Share Your Story!

Has the Center for Accessible Living helped you in some way? We would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form and we may use your story in our publications.

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