What were you doing 40 years ago? Forty years ago, before personal computers, cell phones, and the introduction of the World Wide Web, a woman named Doris Brennan started the first center for independent living in Ohio named Services for Independent Living, Inc. (SIL). This year – 2020 – marks SIL’s 40th anniversary of serving folks in northeast Ohio with disabilities. Over the past 40 years, SIL has positively impacted thousands of consumers, professionals, and community partners. Just to name a few of our major events, SIL hosted events like Week on Wheels in the 1980s, Vice President Dan Quayle’s visit in 1990, and the Best of Accessible awards in the 1990s, the Summer Youth Program during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and developed the Access Cleveland Dining: A Guide to Accessible Restaurants in Cleveland in the late 1990s. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush named SIL as the nation’s 495th “Daily Point of Light”. This award was given in recognition of the agency’s “outstanding community service.”
Over the years, SIL has hosted countless seminars and workshops on ADA and accessibility, Disability Awareness, Inclusion, Transportation, TTY Training, and many other topics. SIL has also conducted numerous accessibility evaluations to ensure ADA compliance and worked at the local, state and federal levels to change governments’ and society’s perceptions of people with disabilities. SIL also sponsored a recreation program in the 1990s which provided various recreational activities to Northeast Ohioans with disabilities.
On the individual services side, SIL has provided youth transition services throughout the years in various capacities and provided peer support and independent living skills to countless individuals. We are well-known for our knowledge of community resources as we provide information and referral services to those who contact us. SIL has provided adaptive equipment to many in need through our equipment loan program. SIL has been recognized by the State of Ohio for our success in relocating individuals from institutions to community-based settings through the Choices Project, the Success Project, and finally the Money Follows the Person program called HOME Choice. SIL has been a PCA Program contractor for Northeast Ohio for numerous years and has empowered individuals to hire and manage their own caregivers.