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Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Homeless & Housing, Job Training, Mental Health

Mission: Access Living is a cross-disability organization governed and staffed by a majority of people with disabilities. We foster the dignity, pride and self-esteem of people with all types of disabilities and enhance the options available to them so they may choose and maintain individualized and satisfying lifestyles. To this end, Access Living offers peer-oriented independent living services; public education, awareness and development; individual and systemic advocacy; and enforcement of civil rights on behalf of people with disabilities. Access Living recognizes the innate rights, abilities, needs and diversity of people with disabilities, works toward their integration into community life, and serves as an agent of social change.

Programs: Long-term care team - provides training and referral for personal assistants, assists people interested in moving out of nursing homes, and advocates for healthcare policy that would benefit people with disabilities.

housing and community support team - assists people with disabilities to find affordable, accessible, integrated housing. The team also helps people obtain support (such as assistive technology) and develop the skills (such as financial literacy) they need to live independently.

community organizing and policy team - conducts activities to engage people with disabilities in the work that the agency does around issues important to people with disabilities in chicago, including housing, employment, education, healthcare, and transportation. The team also conducts policy analysis in order to understand and impact legislation, laws and policies that impact people with disabilities in chicago. The agency's policy analysis work focuses on housing, education, healthcare, employment and community integration.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a board member for Access Living for almost a year. I have learned a great deal and still have much more to learn, but what I have witnessed thus far is a fully engaged, thoroughly motivated non-profit organization led by an inspirational leader. This is especially noteworthy given the budget stalemate in Illinois, which has resulted in cutbacks of services as well as complete closures of centers for independent living in the state. Despite the financial challenges, Access Living continues to support the independence of people with disabilities.

A recent online article from the Chicago Tribune highlights the appointment of Garland Armstrong, a returning ambassador for ComEd's Energy Force, the country's first energy-efficiency education program designed for and taught by people with disabilities. Energy Force Ambassadors will be attending many events throughout the year to educate Chicagoans about tips to stay energy efficient. Garland will be representing Access Living in its efforts to equip individuals with disabilities with the tools to overcome societal barriers to inclusion by imparting independent living skills, teaching economic self-sufficiency, and enabling people with disabilities to transition to autonomous community living. Garland has been a consumer with Access Living for more than five years. While going to Access Living to receive services, Garland has been very beneficial in helping other people with disabilities gain greater confidence and self-esteem by serving as a positive role model.


Client Served

Rating: 5

Access Living has walked beside us during one of our family's darkest times. My daughter became disabled while attending an inaccessible public school. Their advocacy and knowledge of the system were invaluable. They protected her from being relocated to another school (with less than a month left in the school year).

There is no better advocacy group for the disabled in Chicago and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have them on our side.