Independence First building exterior

The Resource for People with Disabilities

IndependenceFirst is Metro Milwaukee's FIRST resource when people have questions regarding access and disability.  We offer over 20 Programs & Services for people with disabilities of all kinds, in all age groups and provide programs on disability awareness and access to the general community.  Over 50% of our staff, managers and Board have disabilities themselves and this peer approach leads to excellent outcomes.

Our Mission and Vision

Our History

Annual Report
Our Services
What are YOUR goals?  We can assist you to achieve them in one of our services promoting independent living for people with disabilities. Whether it's finding personal care or supportive home care serviceslearning life skills like money management or social skills or simply helping you to make your home or business accessible, we are your first resource.

We also help over 4,100 people each year in our Information & Referral service, answering questions regarding disability issues or community resources on disability. Contact us first when you have a question about disability or access and we can help you find an answer or other community resource!

Independent Living Centers
IndependenceFirst is a community-based, non-residential Independent Living Center (CIL) in Milwaukee, WI. CILs are located across the US and were born in the 1970s out of the civil rights movement for people with disabilities, known as the disability rights movement. IndependenceFirst is proud to be one of the largest CILs in the nation as measured by service offerings, staffing levels and consumers served annually, as well as budget. The organization is nationally recognized as an innovative leader in service delivery and advocacy with staff serving on committees related to disability issues locally, statewide and nationally. We are visited by international guests and people from throughout the country who are interested in learning about our methods and work.

While there is no national CIL parent organization, CILs are philosophically connected offering at minimum five core services: information/referral, peer support, independent living skills training, transition and advocacy. All CILs are founded on common principles and philosophy. The Independent Living philosophy holds that individuals with disabilities have the right to live with dignity and with appropriate support in their own homes, fully participate in their communities, and to control and make decisions about their lives. Consumer choice, autonomy and control define Independent Living.

Read more about Independent Living Values


IndependenceFirst has a vision for full inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of our community and commits itself toward this end.


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