Centers for Independent Living (CILs)

CILs are non-profit organizations run by and for people with disabilities. CILs are not a specific program for students with disabilities but they do provide supports that may be helpful. CILs help people with disabilities to be fully included in community life. Virginia has 23 CILs that work with individuals, including students, to help them make their own decisions about their lives and remove barriers (problems) that make it hard for them to reach and achieve their independent living goals within their communities. Not all areas of Virginia have a CIL.

All CILs provide the following services:

  • Advocacy – help people with disabilities speak up for their own needs and those of others, make their own decisions, and exercise their rights
  • Peer Counseling – people with disabilities help guide participants on how they can meet their challenges, goals, and dreams, in part using their own lived experiences
  • Independent Living Skills Training – participants learn the skills needed to live on their own or with others, with needed supports
  • Information and Referral – provides information about various topics and makes referrals to other helpful organizations
  • Transition Services – for youth at risk of going into an institution, like a nursing home, these services help people with disabilities move into or stay in the community

Some CILs also provide additional services in their communities based on their funding and highest needs. These may include special education advocacy, helping people locate housing, helping people understand the Medicaid waiver system, providing specialized programs for youth, and more. The map below shows where Virginia’s CILs are located. See also, DARS Independent Living Services (

Map of Virginia that shows where each Center for Independent Living is located

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