Our Story

Advocates for Access is a private, not-for-profit, non-residential organization established in 1985. Advocates for Access is managed by and for people with disabilities. We are a Center for Independent Living dedicated to “unlocking opportunities of independent living for people with disabilities to reach their full potential within our community.” To fulfill this mission, Advocates for Access provides direct services, combined with advocacy for social change to allow greater integration of persons with disabilities into mainstream life. We serve people with disabilities, their families and the community in which they live. We also work with private organizations, local communities, service providers, businesses and industries that require technical assistance in responding to the needs of people with disabilities. Advocates for Access serves the counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Fulton and Woodford.



Adovates for Access Large Group Photo

Our History

Illinois Centers for Independent Living were first established in the late 1970's in Chicago and Rockford. In 1985, the Illinois General Assembly appropriated funds through the Department of Rehabilitation services to establish the Central Illinois Center for Independent Living (CICIL), now known as Advocates for Access.


We differ from traditional service agencies because we are staffed and governed primarily by persons with disabilities. This brings a positive perspective based on personal experience with a disability and an understanding of barriers faced and the potential for success.


An equally important difference is a philosophy of consumer control. We do not direct our consumers, make decisions for them, or tell them what to do. We serve as a resource and mentor, empowering consumers with the skills necessary to direct their own lives, set their own goals, and plan the necessary steps to achieve those goals.


Advocates for Access works within our community to bring about positive change in attitudes and accessibility to create an open and welcoming environment for citizens with disabilities. By participating in community events, networking with other agencies, and conducting presentations, we create an awareness of disability issues.


Advocacy is also a vital component of Advocates for Access. We are the voice within our community, which exposes discriminatory policies and practices detrimental to persons with disabilities. That voice is supported by an involved group of people who work with community leaders to bring about change. Consumers are taught self-advocacy skills so they are prepared to deal with discrimination if it confronts them.

Five Core Services

Provides individualized instruction in life skills by setting and achieving goals such as using public transportation, money management, social skills, attendant management, nutrition, and self-advocacy.

Facilitates the transition from nursing homes and other institutions to home and community based living; provides assistance to those at risk of entering an institution, and facilitates the transition of youth with disabilities into higher education, the workforce and the community.

Provides information about disability issues and referral to other agencies, which provide services to people with disabilities. This is available to the public and to consumers.

Strives to change policies to make government, transportation, and housing systems more accessible to people with disabilities.

Supporting people as they deal with emotional aspects of their disabilities in group and individual settings.

Download our overview brochure to find out how Advocates for Access is making an impact in the lives of the disabled in Central Illinois


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