RCIL provides relevant, creative, and innovative leadership to advance the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and presses for social progress that allows for all human beings to be integrated, participating members of our society.
As a civil rights organization, RCIL offers a wide range of independent living and advocacy services for and — most importantly — with people with disabilities. Together, we strive to promote the belief that it is a basic human right to participate in society as self-determining individuals, choosing our own paths and contributing to the advancement of our families, our professions, and our communities.
Independence is the key to the successful achievement of our goals. RCIL helps individuals of all ages and types of disability to obtain the community supports and services they need to live independently. Whether this means getting an education, obtaining competitive employment, or living in one's own home, our programs are designed to provide a full spectrum of support and advocacy.
With more than 2,500 employees in 38 counties across Upstate New York, RCIL is the largest independent living center in the state and one of the largest in the nation. This dedicated and committed staff works every day to promote individual rights and the unique abilities of each person. Through all stages of life, RCIL is there to ensure that individuals have the services and supports they need to thrive on their own terms.
The RCIL mission is to ensure a fully accessible, integrated society that enables full participation by people with disabilities.
RCIL promotes a dynamic environment where society and the individual mutually benefit from a world with no limits. This is accomplished by promoting and achieving excellence in consumer-controlled, self-directed services in programs, education, advocacy, research, and information retrieval and dissemination. These services are self-directed and geared toward increasing awareness of an individual's rights and options as well as the various methods to achieve chosen goals.
It is fundamental that all advocacy, programming, and services ensure confidentiality, guard against exploitation, paternalism, and segregation, thus safeguarding the principle of consumer empowerment.
Core Values Statement
This organization believes that the widespread poverty, segregation, and isolation of people with disabilities is unacceptable, should not be tolerated, and requires change. We feel an obligation to make positive systemic changes through education and legislation and to provide full access, power, and self-determination to those with disabilities. With a focus on integration and assisting people to reach their greatest potential, we will support a culture that encourages risk-taking, creativity, and innovation. To address broader public policy issues, we will be committed and deliberate in speaking about the problems and obstacles faced by people with disabilities. We shall exist as an organization that on all levels abides by a living code of ethics which mandates respect, appreciation, honesty, integrity, empathy, trust, and accountability.
What does RCIL do?
The core functions performed by all independent living centers include peer counseling, independent living skills training, information and referral, individual and system advocacy, and transition services. RCIL provides those basic services and so much more.
From Advocacy and Accessibility to Adult and Senior Services, Home-Based Services, Youth Services, and Employment Services, RCIL provides a wide range of assistance for individuals with disabilities to live independently. As the regional expert on disability issues, RCIL advocates for the rights of individuals and serves as a clearinghouse for information, a resource for adaptive technology, and a source for guidance about the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Olmstead decision, and other legislation related to disability rights.
How is RCIL organized?
The Independence Group includes several divisions to provide a variety of services:
- RCIL, Inc. - the parent company responsible for planning, compliance, and quality control for the entire enterprise.
- Resource Center for Independent Living, Inc. - the nonprofit provider for service and support programs that serve the needs of individuals with disabilities and address the core independent living center functions of peer counseling, independent living skills training, information and referral, individual and system advocacy, and transition services.
- Resource Center for Independent Living Foundation, Inc. - the fundraising arm of RCIL created to support the initiatives, activities, and programs within the organization.
- At Home Independent Care, Inc. - a nonprofit Licensed Home Care Service Agency.
- Learning Disability Association of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. - a nonprofit agency that provides services and supports to youth with disabilities including transition services, parent training and support, summer camp experiences, and the signature Main Street program for at-risk youth.
- Columbia Place Associates, Inc. - a for-profit employment agency established by RCIL to provide the community with a fresh choice for temporary and temp-to-hire employees. Not directly associated with RCIL, this agency, which serves companies and individuals with and without disabilities, contributes its net profits to the RCIL Foundation.
What makes RCIL different?
Independent living centers grew out of the civil rights movement with explicit goals to promote the full integration of individuals with disabilities into society and to advocate for the rights of those individuals. People with disabilities comprise, at a minimum, 51% of the membership of the RCIL Board of Directors putting policy and advocacy decisions in the hands of those directly impacted.
Our approach is holistic; our services are comprehensive and consumer-directed. When our staff and consumers identify areas of the system that need change, we tackle the problems through public policy initiatives, legislation, and advocacy. In other words, we are committed to breaking through systemic barriers in order to provide people with the basic human right to live rich, self-directed lives.
The Olmstead Act – Promoting Community Integration for Everyone
The story of the Olmstead case begins with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental illness and developmental disabilities, and were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in the State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. Following the women's medical treatment there, mental health professionals stated that each was ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution, each for several years after the initial treatment was concluded. They filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the hospital.
On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (1) such services are appropriate; (2) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and (3) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the public entity and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the entity.
The Supreme Court explained that its holding "reflects two evident judgments." First, "institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable of or unworthy of participating in community life." Second, "confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment."