Independent Living

Links to all of our videos are on this page. We interviewed people with disabilities who live and celebrate the independent living lifestyle. They are each remarkable in their accomplishments and their normalcy.

Independent Living is defined as as “the ability to live independently and productively in the community and to live with the same freedom of choice as a non-disabled person. So it’s not that you are living on your own but that you control where you live and have the same range of choices as a non-disabled person. (Jill Weiss) ” from an article by Dr. Adolf Ratzka, 1992.

Each person who was interviewed has had to face barriers and challenges to independence. Each has found a path to a good life. And each has helped reduce barriers for others with disabilities.

Paul Spooner speaking at a PCA rally

Civil Rights Movement and Disability Rights – Paul Spooner

"July 26th is my 4th of July!" As an early proponent of the Independent Living movement, Paul Spooner was a ...
Watch Video of Paul
Carmen kayaking 2014 ADA celebration

My Mom Was Not the One to Quit – Carmen Rosado

Carmen Rosado's spinal cord tumor led to the loss of movement in her legs and arms, as well doctors telling ...
Watch Video of Carmen
Joe and Linda at MWCIL Gala in 2015

There Was Never Any Doubt – Joe Bellil and Linda Long-Bellil

Growing up pre-ADA, both Joe and Linda's parents had high expectations that each would be independent. Joe contracted polio at ...
Watch Video of Joe and Linda
Sandy on the right with MDDC Staff

The Sandy Houghton Story

MetroWest Center for Independent Living did not make this film, and it is 41 minutes long. Sandy's story is more ...
Watch Video of Sandy
Dan and his wife

How Far We’ve Come – Dan Greany

Dan Greany has lived through changes brought by the ADA. He remembers when there was no PCA program in western ...
Watch Video of Dan
Karen Schneiderman testifies against Assisted Suicide at the State House in 2012.

Any Time a Person with a Disability Goes Outside, It’s a Political Statement – Karen Schneiderman

Karen Schneiderman describes her growth as she learned about the wide range of disabilities, the commonalities of wanting to stay ...
Watch Video of Karen
Michael (r) at Boston 2012 ADA

What is Independent Living? – Michael Muehe

Michael speaks about his journey since his injury in 1976. He has been a key member of the Boston Center ...
Watch Video of Michael
Jini with award from Carroll Center

Don’t Let the Pity Party Last Too Long – Jini Fairley

Jini Fairley developed retinitis pigmentosa (rp) as an adult. As her vision progressively diminished, she made changes to her life ...
Watch Video of Jini
Filomena at 2016 PCA rally

Nothing Can Stop You – Filomena Tripp

Filomena Tripp was born in the Azores, and moved to the U.S. in 1968 (before the ADA!). She was tutored ...
Watch Video of Filomena
Desi - on the right - with youths at the state house

Disability is Normal – Desi Forte

While some advocates focus on inclusion, Desi's path to independence has been through the disabiity community. She credits finding role ...
Watch Video of Desi
Anne at a State House event

My Freedom Means Everything to Me – Anne Fracht

After many years living with her family and later in a group home, Anne was able to get her own ...
Watch Video of Anne
Jennifer speaking at IL Education Day at the State House in 2019

Still More Work to be Done – Jennifer Lee

Advocacy and the removal of barriers for people with disabilities is Jennifer's calling. As chair of the MA Independent ...
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Keith Jones

Essentially… It’s Just Living – Keith Jones

Keith Jones has a pragmatic and joyful view of independent living. He first learned of IL in 1985 from Boston ...
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Jim Kruideneir

Perspective of an Executive Director – Jim Kruideneir

As executive director of STAVROS, the independent living center in Amherst and Springfield, Jim has played an important role in ...
Watch Video of Jim
Tom Filliault Band

I Had No Clue – Tom Filiault

"The IL Movement is strong... It's the right thing to do." Tom learned about independent living from his job at ...
Watch Video of Tom