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Independent living skills

Independent living skills are learned.
We train for success.

We offer more than 40 workshops and programs for education, skills training, socialization, and fun!

Independent Living Skills training classes and workshops include topics such as money management, home and time management, communication skills, how to build self-esteem, how to set goals and make good decisions, dealing with conflict and anger, stress management, assertiveness, computer training, just to name a few. Individuals set their goals and training assists them to be successful in achieving them.

All of our other Independent Living Skills Workshops can also be conducted for youth.

Learn more about our exciting programs below:

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Adaptive E-Gaming

This program brings people with and without disabilities together to play video games!

woman uses an automated chair

Aging in Place

There are alternatives to living in a nursing home. Our experts can provide options and show you equipment that will help you stay in your home.

Man with limb difference plays guitar

Assistive Technology

There are many adaptive types of equipment that help people with disabilities live, work, communicate, and enjoy life.

woman in wheelchair discussing a paper document with a man

Benefits Counseling

We help people with disabilities understand benefits and reach their employment goals.

Photo of wheelchairs and assistive devices

Equipment Reuse & Exchange

Independence First accepts donations of gently used adaptive equipment for re-utilization (as our storage space allows).

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Information & Referral

If we don’t have a program or resource we know who does. Call our knowledgeable experts.

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Peer Support

Shared lived experience is central to all of our services. Join us to find peer mentors or others who share common meaningful connections

A child wearing sunglasses and a helmet rides a duet bike

Recreational Mobility

People with disabilities can join in the fun biking and hiking. We have duet bikes and hand trikes. Find out how you can take one out on loan!

Outline of the state of Wisconsin with sign language inside of the border.  The signs are A O D A.

Substance Abuse/Mental Health

Are you a SUD service provider?  We can help! We’re increasing access to SUD treatment/recovery for people who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing.

Photo of TEPP phone

TEPP Program

Independence First receives funding from the Public Service Commission to bring TEPP to Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties. We can assist with applications, equipment selection, and installation.

Woman Using Oxygen and A Wheelchair Sitting In Her Living Room

Transition Services

Many people prefer to live in the community in their own homes, instead of nursing homes and other institutions. We can help.

Wisloan and Telework logo


WisLoan + Telework are statewide alternative loan programs that allow Wisconsin residents with disabilities to finance assistive technology, home modifications, or equipment needed to become self-employed or work from home.

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Workshops & Classes

We offer more than forty workshops and classes throughout the year. Sign up and join us.

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Youth Programming

Youth with disabilities learn self-advocacy, and connect with the community and other youth with disabilities in meaningful ways.


People with disabilities want the same things as those without disabilities – employment, inclusion, access to businesses, healthy independent living, transportation, education, a vote, housing. Staff provide individual and systemic advocacy to facilitate policy changes in the community. With individuals, our goal is to teach them how to advocate for themselves.

Want to learn more about issues or team up with others working on advocacy issues?

Contact: Brian Peters
Independent Living Services Assistant Program Director
Email Brian Peters
414-937-5912 VP/Relay

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Independence First Consumer Advocacy Teams 2023

The Consumer Advocacy Teams are groups consisting of people with disabilities, staff, board members, and interested community members who are committed to being involved as a group in work that makes positive changes in our communities. The Consumer Advocacy Teams meet approximately once a month to work on a variety of issues affecting people with disabilities in our communities. Meetings currently are held through Zoom videoconferencing platform, which has a call-in option. When able to, meetings will resume on location at Independence First. Contact the staff for each team to be added to the group to receive the monthly agenda and Zoom links.

The Independence First ADA Consumer Advocacy Team is committed to improving the accessibility of business, government entities, and services for people with disabilities in the Metro Milwaukee area by promoting compliance to the American with Disabilities Act, and other disability rights laws through education, advocacy, and community outreach. The meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 2 PM to 3:30 PM. In 2023, the meetings will be in a hybrid format, both on-site and virtual. For more information, contact Calli Niemi at 414-226-8367 or e-mail:

The Long Term Healthcare Consumer Advocacy Team provides opportunities for education and advocacy relating to how one can change the system and improve long-term care services on state and federal levels. The LTC Team provides opportunities for consumers to voice their opinions about various long-term care issues such as: Changes in managed care, accessible housing rules, and other issues. The meetings are held on the 2nd Tuesday of every month from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM. For more information, contact Julie Alexander at 414-226-8378 or e-mail:

The mission of the Transportation Consumer Advocacy Team is to expand and sustain the accessibility, access, and quality of the public transportation system for people with disabilities through consumer input. The meetings are held on the 4th Thursday of the month from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM. For more information, contact Emily Cadman at 414-226-8197 or e-mail:

Join the Accessible Housing Advocacy Team for accessible housing education, advocacy skill building, and making positive changes in local housing. This new advocacy team will focus on increasing the supply of accessible housing in the metro-Milwaukee area as well as sharing information on where people can find them. The meetings are held onf the 1st Tuesday of the month from 3:30PM to 4:30PM. For more information, contact Rebecca Rabatin at 414-226-8307 or

For General Information, contact Independence First 414-291-7520 V/TTY/Relay

Disability Rights

Do you know your rights and responsibilities related to your disability or access? Think you have been discriminated against or have an access complaint? We can help!

People with disabilities have rights but they also have responsibilities to self-advocate, provide and participate in their own decision-making. Issues related to access, legal, employment, landlord/tenant, fair housing, voting, medical access and more can be confusing.Our staff are experts on the ADA, transportation, long-term care and fair housing among other access and disability rights issues.  

Other Disability Rights Resources

Call us with your questions – if we can’t help we know who can!

Contact: Brian Peters
414-937-5912 VP/Relay