Mission Statement: "The Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is a civil and human rights organization. Our mission is to advocate for justice, equality and essential services for a fully integrated and accessible society for all people with disabilities."
TILRC was officially opened in November 1980; however, its roots date back to the early 1970s. During those years, the Independent Living movement across the nation was gaining momentum. This movement involved shifting societal attitudes about disability from perceptions of dependency, pity and charity toward recognition of independence, integration, and removal of architectural and other barriers.
Vocational rehabilitation agencies had been the traditional resource for people with disabilities, but they had no resources for people whose primary goals were to move from institutions and into the community. After much work and many battles, Congress authorized the funding of Independent Living Services and Centers through the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Supporters of this movement in Shawnee County banded together and applied for a grant to open a center to be located in Topeka. A grant was awarded and TILRC began its operations in the latter part of 1980. TILRC began with a staff of 8 and has grown to over 56 employees as our services continue to expand.
TILRC is controlled and operated by a majority of people with disabilities. TILRC provides advocacy and an array of self-directed services to people with disabilities and links them to available community options. TILRC works with citizens who experience disabilities to advocate as a group for community change for equal rights and for additional services. TILRC assists individuals with disabilities to advocate for themselves for equality, desired services and changes that meet their individual needs.
At TILRC we believe that people with any types of disabilities have a right to equal access to public services and accommodations. People with disabilities have a right to exercise and exert choice and self-determination in all areas of life. People with disabilities have a right to be accommodated in employment, housing, transportation, recreation and communication.
TILRC has a goal to provide the highest quality resources, advocacy and services possible. We continue our forward-thinking approach in working to offer the best possible resources for people with disabilities and their families.
Following is a list of links to descriptions of the various services we provide:
Many people with disabilities use a personal attendant to help them maintain their independence. A personal assistant is someone who helps a person with a disability with daily activities that you can't do on your own.
If you need help obtaining personal assistance services, TILRC can help. We can help you identify what programs you are eligible for, like the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Programs. TILRC advocates can provide Independent Living Counceling and Payroll services for HCBS Waiver consumers.
Many HCBS Waiver participants choose to self-direct their own care. That means that the consumer is the boss; they hire their own attendants and teach attendant what they need to do to assist the consumer. We can also help teach you how to do a better job of hiring and managing your attendants. Our payroll service makes it easier for people who self-direct by acting as your payroll agent. We make sure that all the necessary paperwork is completed and that your attendant get paid on time.
Advocacy is a big part of what we do at TILRC. Advocacy is simply supporting or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, a policy or even another person. Our advocacy efforts fall into two main catagories: Individual Advocacy and Systems Change Advocacy.
Our advocates assist people with disabilities in their struggle to assert their civil and human rights and in obtaining needed services and supports. They can provide assistance in determining eligibility for and obtaining benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or Vocational Rehabilitation Services and can provide people with the tools they need to become better self-advocates.
TILRC strives to help make the world a better place to live for all people with disabilities. Whenever TILRC works with other organizations and people like you, to effect positive change in laws, government programs and policies or business practices, that is called Systems Advocacy.
We are involved in Systems Advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels. Systems Advocacy can involve testimony before government bodies, public education campaigns and sometimes it may mean " taking it to the streets" in the form of non-violent protest.
Our Benefits Advocate, Carol Doss, has been helping people get the benefits they are entitled to for 17 years. Carol can tell you what kinds of benefits you may be eligble for, help you apply for Social Security benefits (both SSI and SSDI) and can represent you at appeals hearings. Her fee is 25% of our total back benefits. You can contact Carol at 233.4572.
Independent living skills are the kinds of things that people do everyday. It includes such things as paying bills, cooking a meal, riding the bus, taking a bath and interacting with other people. Sometimes people need help with learning or improving these skills. When they do, our Independent Living Advocates are here to help. The advocates will help you develop a plan for learning whatever skills you need, to be as independent as you want to be.
One thing that people with disabilities need to be able to live independently in their own homes is affordable, accessible housing.
If you need help finding affordable, accessible housing TILRC can help. Our advocates can explain what types of housing opportunities are available in your area and connect you with resources to assist you in fulfilling your housing needs.
If you need accessibility modifications to your home, like a ramp, wider doors or a roll-in shower we can help you find the funding you need to get them done.
TILRC can also provide technical assistance to tenants, landlords and businesses on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Kansas Landlord Tenant Act.
For people who have difficultly communicating because of their disability, TILRC can help by providing peer counseling and independent living skills training.
TILRC also provides Sign Language interpreting and referral services. Contact Jolene at 233.4572 for more information.
If you need documents reproduced in alternate format, such as, Braille, large print or audio tape we can do that, too. It usually takes a couple of days to a couple of weeks to complete the work depending on the size of the job and whether the job is pre-formatted. Contact Angie at 233.4572 for details on rates and turnaround time for specific jobs.
As part of our Systems Change Advocacy efforts, TILRC works to assure that businesses and government entities have TTYs and sign language interpreter services available to the deaf and hearing impaired consumers.
Many of our advocates are people with disabilities, just like you. And like you they have personally had to navigate the social services system to get the services and supports they need to maintain their own independence.
One way they help other people with disabilities is by acting as advisors, mentors and role models; this is called peer counceling. These advocates will work with you to clarify your independent living goals and help you identify what options are available to you.
If there is a problem we can't help you with we probably know someone who can. We are happy to provide you information on or a referral to any other agencies or programs that can assist you in meeting your independent living goals or needs.
Do you need to purchase a new or used wheelchair? Do you need affordable, professional service or repair of your medical equipment? We can help!
TILRC has recently begun offering a Durable Medical Equipment (DME)sales and repair service. DME is any kind of equipment you need to assist you in performing your daily activities. It includes things like wheelchairs, walkers, shower benches, grab bars and lift chairs.
For DME sales and repair at a reasonable price, contact our Service Technician, Pat "The Wheelchair Guy" King, at 233.4572 for a free estimate.
The Transitional Living Program (FP) is a unique program funded by the TILRC, for people with disabilities seeking freedom and personal choice in their lives.
If you are currently living in a nursing facility or other institution, a hospital, experiencing homeless due to inaccessible housing, or are moving to Kansas to obtain HCBS services and you need a temporary place to live while you learn the skills you will need to live on your own or relearn skills after a disabling accident, you can stay up to 8 weeks in our visitable, basic access house.
TILRC offeres several recreational and social opportunities during the year. Our Fishing and Camping Club is active through mid-Spring to late Autumn. THe club generally scheduls an event every month. They go on day fishing trips in Topeka and the surrounding area and plan at least one camp-out each year.
Every July we celebration the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. TILRC's Annual ADA Celebration is a family event with lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Every Autumn we host our Annual Freedom Fest. The Freedom Fest is an opportunity for people with disabilities, advocates, their friend and familiy to get together and celebrate the year's accomplishments and kick back for some fun.
Freedom Fest is the last camp-out of the year. The Fishing and Camping club always hosts a fishing tournament on Saturday. There is also a silent auction and lots of activties for the kids. We usually have a cook-out and if we're lucky a band on Saturday evening.
To learn more about these activities contact Steve at 233.4572.