LC Independent Living

Independent Living Support                                           

Independent Living is controlling and directing your own life. It means knowing what choices are available, selecting what is right for you and taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Independent living defines being in charge of your life, creating a community where people with disabilities attain equality.

Independent Living Supports:

  • Northern Regional Center for Independent Living is a disability rights and resource center serving Jefferson and Lewis Counties
  • NRCIL promotes efforts to end discrimination, segregation, and prejudice against people with disabilities
  • NRCIL works with community partners to create an accessible, inclusive society
  • Through NRCIL, people discover choices to live more independently, with enhanced dignity

Individual Advocacy:

Individuals are assisted in coordinating team meetings, mediating conflicts, identifying misunderstandings, accessing community resources, following up on complaints, and identifying workable options in resolving problems. Individuals engage in activities that are designed to help people learn to advocate for themselves.

  • Individual Advocacy Services assist people in protecting and promoting their rights
  • Assists individuals to access benefits they are entitled to receive
  • Inform individuals about services and programs that are available and how to connect with various organizations
  • Independent Living Skills Training including, budgeting, shopping skills, scheduling, and housekeeping

Self-Help Groups:

Self-help groups, also known as support groups, are available on a weekly basis. A group specifically held for individuals with mental health disabilities gathers in the NRCIL community room for one and a half hours each week. Groups discuss current issues and concerns on a personal level in a strictly confidential setting. The group peer facilitators maintain discussion flow, speaker recognition, respectful listening, and member equality.

Please call our 7632 North State Street Lowville NRCIL office for a listing of all groups offered.

Self-help groups for people with disabilities aid in the process of symptom reduction in five ways:

  • Self-help provides a social network based on common experience, reducing isolation due to stigma and discrimination
  • Self-help facilitates moving from the role of always being helped to helping, thereby increasing self confidence
  • Self-help groups share specific ways of coping from experience
  • Those who successfully cope serve as role models for less successful group members
  • Self-help provides meaningful structure which is not imposed but is self generated from the group members themselves

 Peer Counseling:

In peer counseling, the social support comes from the opportunity to build a rapport with an empathetic peer. Many people find that the genuine concern and assistance of their peers, one-on-one or in a small group setting, helps them deal with important life problems. Peer counseling is effective for a number of reasons. Peer counselors genuinely understand the issues with which the individual is dealing. Having experiential knowledge is a strong motivator for wanting to learn to assist peers. Modeling is a strong concept that is automatically built into these relationships. Some people are intimidated and feel threatened by people they perceive as having power or control. This is a major barrier in the recovery process. Peer counseling is built on equality.

Systems Advocacy:

Systems Advocacy seeks to change legislation and policy through action. People influence the decisions of politicians, policy makers, and the community. Systems Advocacy changes the way political systems operate and eliminates problems on a systematic level. Systems Advocacy happens locally, on the state level, and on the federal level.  Lewis County meetings are held the 1st Wed. of every month at 10:00 at our 7632 North State Street office in Lowville.

Direct Systems Advocacy action includes:

  • Calling, or writing legislators and policy makers
  • Registering to vote and voting in elections
  • Educating on political issues
  • Writing letters to newspapers and other media
  • Sharing personal stories through testimony submissions
  • Coalition building to create strength through numbers

NRCIL facilitates Systems Advocacy on issues important to consumers. Staff works alongside consumers in developing a plan for action to create systems change towards a barrier free society.


Benefits planning include assisting individuals with applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare, Medicaid, Public Assistance, and Consumer Directed Plan to Achieve Self Support (CDPASS).

  • Provides information needed to make informed decisions about employment options
  • Assists in finding solutions that work best while keeping benefits intact

Education and Employment:

NRCIL staff provides information and assistance to consumers in finding educational and employment opportunities.

  • Staff maintain a Job Openings Board in Watertown office resource area and Lowville office community room, publicizing current openings in Jefferson and Lewis Counties
  • NRCIL partners with local educational and vocational services, assisting individuals to connect with other human service agencies

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

The ADA advocate provides consultations in our community on resources, training, and advocacy for consumers and local businesses. Access surveys and Reasonable Accommodations in the workplace are also available.

  • Title I- Employment
  • Title II- Public Services
  • Title III- Public Accommodations
  • Title IV- Telecommunications
  • Title V- Miscellaneous Provisions

Housing Information:

Housing information is available for individuals with disabilities looking for safe, accessible and affordable housing within the community of their choice. Housing has become a difficult stumbling block recently in the North Country due to recent increases in the number of soldiers seeking housing in our area and the lack of available apartments, especially for those with low income. The rate of homelessness has also increased, creating a need for more emergency shelter space as well. NRCIL can assist with finding both short term and long term needs.

Resource Area and Loan Closet:

NRCIL’s Resource Area includes books, periodicals, legislative alerts, upcoming events, job postings, pamphlets and many other materials. There is also an accessible computer with internet access available to people with disabilities in the community. Peer Advocates are available to assist individuals in learning their way around the resource area or to use the computer. Many resource area materials may be borrowed and taken home.

NRCIL’s Loan Closet contains adaptive equipment for short-term loan, including but not limited to wheelchairs, portable ramps, transfer benches, assistive listening devices, assistive speaking devices, canes, and walkers. All items are checked to ensure they are clean and in good working condition.