CIL Resources

The purpose of this guide is to provide information about maintaining a Center for Independent Living (CIL). The information provided should help provide the Centers with technical support for the planning, operation, conduct, administration and evaluation of a Center for Independent Living. You should seek appropriate expertise in all areas mentioned in this manual.

It is important for the centers to maintain a clear understanding of the independent living philosophy and committed to devoting time to maintaining a quality CIL.  Many groups and organizations use the term“independent living”, thus, it is important to understand Independent Living philosophy according to Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as follows:

“Philosophy of Independent Living includes consumer control, peer support, self-help,
self-determination, equal access, and individual and system advocacy, in order to maximize
the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with significant
disabilities, and the integration and full inclusion of individuals with significant disabilities
into the mainstream of American society.”

Training and consultations from an organization that promotes the independent living philosophy can be helpful. The Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation (MVR), the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) or the Missouri Centers for Independent Living are resources that can help in understanding the Independent Living Philosophy.

History of Independent Living

History of Independent Living

Ed Roberts “The Father of Independent Living”

What is Independent Living – A personal definition


By-laws are a legally binding set of rules which are adopted to govern and manage the affairs of the CIL.   The by-laws are written by the CIL’s not for profit incorporators or the Board of Directors and should comply with state law as noted in the Missouri Nonprofit Corporation Act found in the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo) Chapter 355.

The following information should be included in the by-laws of the Center.   However, this list is not intended to be all-inclusive.   The Board of Directors should seek advice from persons with expertise in this area.

(Important: Whenever By-laws are updated, the date that they are approved by the Board of Directors shall be noted on the document.)

The number of members on the Board of Directors.
The number of members of the Board of Directors required to be present in order to conduct official business or “quorum”.
The length of the terms of all members of the Board of Directors, and the terms of each office.
The process for electing the new members to the Board of Directors.

This section includes an outline and an example of a set of by-laws, but the Center’s Board of Directors should review Chapter 355, RSMo and Section 355.116, RSMo and make sure the Center’s by-laws conform to state law.

Sample By-Laws
Policy and Procedures
Financial Oversight

Board of Directors

The importance of a Board of Directors cannot be overstated.  They are the governing body of the not for profit organization.  This section outlines important aspects of the board of directors and things to consider in the development of the board.   Centers that have taken the time to pick and train qualified people to sit on the board have a higher success rate and prove to be more productive in achieving the goals and mission of the center.   It is important that a CIL board have representation from the entire service catchment area.  In addition, 51% of the members of the CIL board are required by federal and state law to be people with disabilities.

There are legal requirements of the general not for profit law, as well as state and federal law, that your board will have to adhere to. Some of these have been outlined in this manual.   However, it is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to make sure they have addressed all legal requirements pertaining to the Center and the Board of Directors.

Characteristics of an Effective Board
Board Training
Board Activities
Board Legal Responsibilities
Financial Oversight
Board Member Liability
Board Committees
President Job Description
Vice-President Job Description
Treasurer Job Description
Secretary Job Description
Member Job Description
Standards of Conduct for Board Members
Board Recruitment
Board of Directors Composite Table
CIL Insurance Coverage


The State and Federal standards mandate that 51% of the CIL staff and Board of Directors be people with disabilities in decision making positions. CILs will usually have an Executive Director, Independent Living Specialist, and Office Manager or Bookkeeper. It is important not to underbudget for these positions in order to obtain qualified people.

This section includes sample job descriptions to review to assist the CIL during the search for qualified personnel.

Also included in this section are guidelines for interviewing.   It is important to review these before beginning the interviewing process.

Executive Director
Executive Director Role
Office Manager
Program Manager
Disability Advocate
Access Specialist
Assistive Technology Coordinator
Assistive Technology Specialist

Independent Living Resources

CIL Services