Hispanic Heritage Month 2015: Latinos with Disabilities and Independent Living

Independent living helps provide equal opportunities to people with disabilities in relation to housing, employment, education, community participation, and so on. It is a worldwide movement of people with disabilities who are working toward self-determination and equal opportunities. Independent living, in the context of elder care for people aging with or into disabilities, can be a step in the continuum of care.

In areas with Latino communities, some of the ILCs provide services to Latinos with disabilities in Spanish. For example, the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco (ILRCSF) provides bilingual and bicultural services to Latinos with disabilities in the Mission District of San Francisco. These services include helping Latinos with disabilities obtain services such as housing advocacy and finding funding for housing, procurement of assistive technology, and information on medical and economic benefits. Another example is the Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS), whose services include peer counseling, information and referral services, crime victims and domestic violence services, housing services, and services for the Deaf. Although BILS provides their services in English, their website is available in Spanish by clicking on the Spanish flag above the search bar. Finally, the DC Center for Independent Living in Washington, DC, has the mission of eliminating architectural, communication, and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities. The Center provides services that include information and referral and peer counseling and their staff speaks Spanish. To find out what ILCs are available in your community, visit ILRU’s directory of ILCs.

ILCs can also provide services related to home modifications, may include youth programs and education, may provide materials in Spanish, accessible recreational activities resources, and service animal and support animal information. However, Latinos with disabilities still experience barriers when it comes to accessing ICLs and their services. These barriers include a lack of materials, forms, advertisements, flyers and other relevant documents in Spanish; a lack of interpreters from the Latino culture to address cultural issues; a lack of outreach to Latinos with disabilities across programs, education of staff on immigration and the rights of Latinos with disabilities; a lack of bilingual/bicultural staff; a lack of an advocacy and empowerment orientation in the provision of services to Latinos with disabilities; and a lack of outreach to and serving of Latinos with disabilities. Erasing these barriers by hiring trilingual Latino staff (Spanish, English and ASL), developing outreach towards the Latino community, hiring bicultural staff, and increasing ILCs visibility within the Latino community.

If you are looking for independent living resources that focus on Latinos with disabilities, here are a few:

  • AbleData provides information on assistive technology products, solutions, and resources. Although their website is in English, you can contact them via phone at 800/227-0216 to speak with someone in Spanish.
  • Access Living provides materials in Spanish, offers Spanish language interpreters for events and organizations, and provides resources to the community.
  • The National Institute on Latinos with Disabilities in Chicago provides advocacy and training for Latinos with disabilities in Illinois.
  • The Alliance for Latinos with Disabilities is an organization of community-based agencies, hospitals, and local businesses that advocates for Latinos with disabilities.

We ran searches in REHABDATA using the terms Latinos and Independent Living and found articles that include:

  • Outreach to Latinos with disabilities: Access living progress report. (O18143).
  • Preliminary investigation of longitudinal sociodemographic, injury and psychosocial characteristics in a group of non-English speaking Latinos with brain injury. (J64238).
  • Racial differences in post-stroke rehabilitation utilization and functional outcomes. (J70649).

Don’t forget to look at our resources on independent living, assistive technology, education, and employment. Also check out our FAQs on transportation services, service animal and support animals, housing options, and accessible recreational activities. Please feel free to contact us via phone at 800/346-2742, via email, or chat for more information on independent living.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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