Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council

Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council


Independent Living (IL): A philosophy which includes consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and systems advocacy. These qualities maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities. The optimal goal is the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society.

Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC): An independent planning body working with the Department of Rehabilitative Services, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to increase the impact of independent living services in Virginia. The SILC is composed of gubernatorial appointees who represent people with significant disabilities from across the state, as well as, the interests of other independent living programs and services. The state qualifies for federal IL funds because of the existence of the SILC and the SILC's federal mandate to develop a three year State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) which outlines IL priorities and identifies IL needs for the Commonwealth's citizens.

SILC Mission Statement the Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council's mission is to promote effective policies, programs, and activities that maximize independence for Virginian's with disabilities by:

  • developing, monitoring, reviewing and evaluating the State Plan for Independent Living,
  • supporting and expanding the state network of Centers for Independent Living,
  • creating a culture for full integration and independence,
  • advocating systems change for full access and equality in community life,
  • educating policy makers and stakeholders about the importance of independent living,
  • developing a strategy for collaboration among stakeholders in the disability community,
  • leading to full inclusion and independence in the Commonwealth.

Centers For Independent Living (CILs): A non-residential place of action and coalition, where persons with disabilities learn empowerment and develop the skills necessary to make lifestyle choices. Centers provide services and advocacy to promote the leadership, independence and productivity of people with disabilities. Centers work with individuals, local communities, government agencies and the SILC to remove barriers to independence and to ensure equality of persons with disabilities.

Historical Overview: In 1992, Section 705 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act authorized the creation of the Statewide Independent Living Council. (APPENDIX I) The act required each state to establish a SILC within one year of the date of enactment. Virginia's response to this federal law was enacted in 1994, as Part A of the legislation and resulted in the development of the first Virginia SILC. In 2006, Parts B and C were added to the state code further defining the SILC fiscal responsibilities under Virginia law. (APPENDIX II)

Following the composition and term requirements outlined in the federal mandate, the gubernatorial appointees for the first SILC were assigned staggered terms beginning with the federal fiscal year October 1993 - September 1994. The composition requirements outlined in the initial act continues to direct the membership roster of the Virginia SILC. The mandate states that the membership shall remain at or above 51% of people who represent a broad range of significant disabilities and are knowledgeable about CILs and IL services.(APPENDIX III)

Since 1995, the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) has been written by the SILC. As mandated in section 704 of the Rehabilitation Act, the SPIL is written in three year increments and delineates specific objectives and timelines for ensuring that the Commonwealth is providing the appropriate planning, financial support, coordination and other assistance to adequately address the IL service needs of the citizens with disabilities.

One of the priorities of the SILC has been program support and advocacy in the development of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) throughout the Commonwealth. Through the SPIL, programmatic funds have been made available to assist the current sixteen (16) CILs and the four (4) satellites to address IL advocacy needs. These community based CILs have afforded localities the opportunity to address the specific IL needs of an area and to develop an active advocacy coalition at the local and state level. (APPENDIX IV, APPENDIX V)

The SILC, the states' designated state units, which in Virginia are the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) and the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), the CILs and all parties affected by the IL philosophy, work together to formulate the focus for each SPIL. The following is an overview of Virginia's SPIL from its inception in 1995.

State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) History

1995   This is a one- year Plan (Feds were still working on plan requirements).

  • State focused on planning for new Centers, as Federal and State funds became available/ developing a CIL Data Collection and Evaluation System
  • The SILC, with assistance from DRS, conducted a survey of consumers to determine how Part B funds should be spent
  • Part B funds were distributed evenly among the nine consumer based CILs then in existence for the purchase of goods and services for individuals. Examples of this included wheelchairs, hearing aides, housing deposits and start-up costs, and ramp/accessibility construction
  • The Woodrow Wilson CIL, a state operated CIL and DBVI (then DVH) also received a portion of Part B funds
  • Establishment of a new CIL in Fredericksburg (using a windfall of extra Part B dollars given to Virginia)

1996-1998   First three-year Plan for Virginia

  • The SILC supported (not by funding, but by actively advocating for) three additional CILs in Virginia
  • The SILC began in establish their independence by making an “independent office” a goal
  • Consumer coalition building was also a goal and the SILC began to understand that Part B funds could be used for other projects and not only direct services
  • The SILC advocated for cost of living increases for CILs
  • Outreach to racial and ethnic minorities was also a priority as data was gathered among CILs
  • Some Part B funds were used to establish local coalitions, however the majority of funds were again granted to CILs for consumer goods and services


  • The SILC began to support a “consumerism movement” and began to advocate for and provide information via the Internet, Action Alerts, supporting a statewide conference and supporting other training activities
  • SILC began to see a need to develop local advocacy efforts in an orchestrated manner
  • There was a shift in Part B funding from direct services to supporting the development of local consumer advocacy groups, training CIL consumers and staff and making a concentrated effort to support and advocate for more personal assistance services, nursing home transition activities, and other systems change activities
  • Center in Fredericksburg was transitioned off of Part B funds
  • The SILC also funded the CIRCLE Project (Creating and Implementing Responsiveness in Community Living to Endependence which investigated Medicaid and Medicare Home and Community Based Services, looking at ways to “open up” those programs


  • At the onset of this plan, the SILC began to focus its efforts on systems change activities rather than the funding of direct services
  • The SILC funded the Community Action Specialist (CAS) project designed to continue building coalitions and consumer advocacy groups at the local level, training consumers, and advocating for both system-wide and local change.
  • Through Part B funds the SILC provided funding for each CIL to hire a Community Action Specialist and actively work on establishing local consumer advocacy groups
  • The SILC also focused on maintaining a visible Website and providing ongoing information to consumers, supporting additional funding for CILs and organizational change for the Council


  • The SILC, again, focused on information sharing and informational access as a way to increase the knowledge base and advocacy efforts of consumers
  • A goal was also set to improve and increase youth advocacy through youth leadership development and inclusion
  • Systems change activities at the local and state level through the continued funding of the CAS Project with the majority of Part B funding coming into Virginia
  • The importance of the SILC’s “autonomy and economic independence” remained both a priority and a goal
  • Additional accomplishments for the SILC during this period but not specifically required by the SPIL include:

    • the development of a five year plan referred to in the SILC minutes as, SNAPSHOT
    • the SILC partnered with the DSU to sponsor an advocates' meeting to celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the enactment of the Virginians with Disability Act
    • the Warren G Stambaugh Foundation donated funds to the SILC which necessitated the development of the Statewide Independent Living Fund (SILF). This fund was established to allow the SILC to accept grants, gifts, donations and bequests on behalf of the Council from any source and to deposit all monies into the fund.


  • The SILC worked with the network of the CILs and the DSUs to review and identify gaps in independent living services in geographic regions of Virginia not served by a CIL. A series of town hall forums were held in Planning Districts 9 (lower part), 13 and 14.
  • The SILC worked in conjunction with the Office of Community Integration and various community partners to assist in implementing the initiatives identified Cross Governmental Strategic Plan.
  • Part B Funds were awarded to the CILs in systems change advocacy, addressing the local level needs of individuals transitioning out of institutions in housing, transportation and personal assistance services.
  • The SILC promoted the ongoing education and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other major disability rights laws.
  • Additional accomplishments during this period not specifically listed in the SPIL include:

    • the credited participation of the SILC in the development of a manual currently used by Congress which establishes the necessary accessibility guidelines for assisting those individuals with disabilities
    • Working with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the SILC investigated the feasibility of obtaining federal certification of the uniform statewide building code.


  • The SILC continued to address the nurturing of the consumer groups in geographical areas that are unserved and underserved in Virginia.
  • The CILs and the SILC remained in partnership with the Office of Community Integration to implement the initiatives outlined in the Virginia Olmstead Plan. The CILs were again awarded Part B funding for systems change activities at the local level to address community integration of consumers with disabilities.
  • The SILC advocated for overall compliance of applicable disability laws to increase the inclusion of Virginians with disabilities and promote greater access to their communities.
  • Additional accomplishments during this period not specifically listed in the SPIL include:

    • A SILC brochure was developed by the Council and disseminated to promote awareness of the SILC and recruit potential members.
    • The SILC assigned representatives to the State Rehabilitation Councils of DRS and DBVI, the Assistive Technology Advisory Council, and Blueprint for Livable Communities Citizen Advisory Group.
    •  A one page directive was distributed to attendees at the IL Conference held in May 2012. The SILC also contributed to the IL Conference by sponsoring the keynote speaker, Mark Johnson, as a strategy to promote the IL philosophy.


  • The SILC awarded Part B funds to the disAbility Resource Center in Fredericksburg to provide guidance and mentoring to consumer groups in the lower part of Planning District 9, a geographically unserved area of Virginia. This area encompasses Culpeper, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties.
  • For a final SPIL cycle, Part B Funds were awarded to the sixteen CILs for systems change advocacy, addressing the local level needs of individuals in housing, transportation and personal assistance services including support service providers, to ensure a smooth transition into community or allow someone to remain in the community.
  • The SILC reviewed the accessibility of key state websites to ensure compliance with Title IV of the Telecommunications Act, and sought collaboration activity with state agency heads and webmasters, while advocating for equal access for individuals with disabilities.

    Additional accomplishments during this period not specifically listed in the SPIL include:
    • The satellite office located in New River Valley (Southwest Virginia) converted to a full-fledged Center for Independent Living in Planning District 5, serving Allegany, Craig, Botetourt, and Roanoke Counties, and the city of Christiansburg
    • The SILC was a sponsor of the 2015 IL Conference which included a celebration of the Virginians with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Approximately 260 individuals attended this event, including CIL staff, consumers, SILC members, service providers and Governor McAuliffe.
    • Each year several current and former SILC members join the CIL network at the Virginia General Assembly for IL Day, to meet with their respective state legislators to advocate for funding support of the CILs and to educate them about the potential effects of legislative decisions on the lives of individuals with disabilities.
    • SILC members regularly attend the Annual Conference on Independent Living in July of each year. The conference provided the opportunity for members to attend workshops, network with other IL advocates on a national level, march to the U.S. Capitol and shape the future of independent living.

› Appendix I (Word Document)
› Appendix II (Word Document)
› Appendix III (Word Document)
› Appendix IV (Word Document)
› Appendix V (PowerPoint Document)