With respect to news coverage of a Minnesota woman’s fight to overturn a guardianship and leave a hospital, we are in a crisis of human rights.
The Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council (MNSILC) provides statewide planning and policies necessary to provide independent living services to people with disabilities. We want to take a moment to provide our viewpoint.
Independent living is more than a philosophy, it is a way of life. Independent living is having opportunities to make decisions that affect one’s life, able to pursue activities of one’s own choosing, limited only in the same ways that one’s nondisabled neighbors are limited.
Basic physiological needs including accessible housing, health care, staffing, food and so much more are not being provided despite federal and state programs. The ability to thrive includes financial stability, employment, education, belonging and so much more is not accessible without recognizing the systemic barriers in the disability services, health care, transportation, public health, and more.
This is not about charity; this is about having basic human rights met. Decisions being limited due to lack of resources, information, and knowledge of what is available are barriers to independent living. There are options to help, their resources are stretched, but they are available.
• Centers for Independent Living (CIL) are out there. All 87 counties of Minnesota are regionally served by a local, independent 501c3 non-profit organization of people with disabilities for people with disabilities. They serve people who identify a barrier to accessing an independent life defined on their terms. You can search for your local center at the MACIL website.
• Online resources like Disability Hub provide links and tips for everything from health to money and work.
We want it well-known what independent living is and its criticality in the health and well-being of all involved. We want everyone who plays a role in any decision making to be well educated about the options and resources available. We want all to “live their best life” without barriers.
• To those in hearings, presiding over cases, representing individuals – take the time to educate yourselves fully on what is available, exhaust all options that provide the greatest amount of independent living to the individual.
• To the medical profession – learn what you can about resources to recommend to your patients. Reach out to your local CIL, reach out to MNSILC or many other organizations serving those with disabilities.
• To legislators: recognize we are talking about basic human rights and consider that in all that crosses your desk. Issues like these should never be partisan.
Robyn Block, chairperson, Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council
Jacob Schuller, chairperson, Minnesota Association of Centers for Independent Living and Executive director of Southeastern Center for Independent Living