EPISODE 3 | Nothing about US, without US – Conversations with Access Living, Chicago’s Leading Change Agent for People with Disabilities

Susan showing the walls of art at Access Living. All art is either created or inspired by people with disabilities.

The unassuming exterior of Access Living does no justice for the overwhelming sense of  community that is constantly motivating change inside. I (Jen Cooper) spent a day at Access Living in the Summer of 2016. I met AL’s consumers (individuals who utilize Access Living resources, programs, and space), stayed for a press conference, and got a tour of the (very accessible, very impressive, very innovative) building. But, more than anything, I realized that Access Living had quite a story to tell. Actually, it had many stories. Probably an endless amount of stories, in fact — of family, fight, advocacy, resiliency, and strength.

When you think of health inequities our visions are not automatically brought to a person in a wheelchair, but people with disabilities experience many barriers to care, are often living on public aid, and have – as you might imagine – general issues maneuvering – at times – an inaccessible world.

Access Living is looking to change that trend. Being one of the first ten centers for independent living established in the country, Access Living’s model includes over half of the board and the staff as people with disabilities. Nothing about us, without us. They are making strides – let me repeat that – GIANT strides towards providing people with disabilities more rights, more access, and more freedom through independent living. As their website states, “we equip people with disabilities with the tools to overcome societal barriers to inclusion by imparting independent living skills, teaching economic self-sufficiency, and enabling people with disabilities to transition to autonomous community living.”

We sat down with Tom, Michael and Susan from Access Living to talk about the struggles and triumphs of Access Living and their consumers.

access studio
Skinny Trees on the road! Our studio setup at the Access Living headquarters!

| S H O W   N O T E S | 

We would like to thank Access Living for allowing us into their home to record this episode. Skinny Trees feels proud to be in a city with such a valuable resource – a place for connection – and we continue to commend the work there.


Interview with Tom, Michael and Susan from Access Living:




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