Growing a resource for persons with disabilities

The Information Center for Individuals with Disabilities was founded more than 20 years ago to provide information, referral and problem-solving assistance to people with disabilities.

Our primary goal was to develop a repository of wide-ranging information to help persons with disabilities manage their own lives. That part of our vision became reality in May, 1977, when the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission offered to provide space and basic funding for the Center. Other government agencies, private organizations, and individual donors provided additional funding by contract, grant or contribution. Scores of individuals whose lives were affected by disability contributed their insights, experience, resources and labor to build an effective organization. The Center evolved as a cooperative effort.

As we progressed, we discovered that some questions could be answered easily, while others required more personal attention and communication. Personal communication is also essential for feedback on the service-the quality and scope of the information we offer, how easy it is to understand and access, and how we can best reach the people who might benefit from the information.

We also saw that an informed and comprehensive system of organizing disability information was unavailable. Therefore, the Center focused on developing a disability taxonomy, or index of related categories and subjects. Developing this tool has been a major contribution to disability information. We now offer an efficient and orderly system for storing an extensive collection of information and identifying organizations providing additional resources. Another major contribution has been the creation of "fact sheets," clear and concise written responses to frequently asked questions.

The Center has always aimed to learn about information resources already available in the community so that, instead of duplicating efforts, we can direct people to other organizations, guide them on how to ask for what they need, and encourage them to come back to us with any additional questions that may arise.

Current Status

Several years ago the chief funding for the Center was discontinued due to changes in funding trends, and we were forced to return to our roots as an entirely volunteer-run organization. We regret that we are no longer able to provide direct telephone and in-person support. We continue to seek funding to assure that wider services once again are made available to people seeking information about living with disabilities. Fortunately, we have been able to continue publishing our newsletter, Disability Issues, on a reduced schedule. The Center is also involved in advocacy around issues of importance to people with disabilities, as well as the creation of this web site to share our information. early task was the development of a disability organized list of all related categories and subjects.
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