Options conducts both personal and systemic advocacy. Personal advocacy, or self-advocacy, empowers an individual to pursue the lifestyle he or she chooses. Consumers who wish to be self-advocates are given advice and support on effective means of accessing various service systems. For those consumers who request assistance in advocating for themselves, Options staff can provide assistance. Systemic advocacy is conducted as Options strives to eliminate barriers to equal access and opportunities for all persons with disabilities. Through various public awareness activities, special events, and participation in the legislative process, Options works to promote and affect positive change on local, state, and national levels.
Independent Living Skills Training
Options provides training on skills requested by people with disabilities to live independently. Independent living skills training may include job skills training, employment assistance, housing acquisition, personal assistant management, and money management/budgeting.
Information and Referral
Options provides current information on adaptive equipment, housing, support services, employment, and many other issues for people with disabilities and the general public. Referrals are made to outside sources, including community agencies and service providers, whenever appropriate.
The independent living movement promotes peer-supported services. As requested by a person with a disability, Options seeks to match that individual with another person who has a similar disability or life experience. These peer counselors provide positive role-modeling, exhibit strong coping and problem-solving skills, and share the benefit of their knowledge about community resources. Options also facilitates cross-disabilities support groups for persons with all types of disabilities and a vision information group for people who have a vision impairment.
Amplified Phone and TTY Demonstration Center
Options is designated by the Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation (ITAC) to demonstrate free amplified phones for people who are hard of hearing and TTYs (teletypewriter devices) to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments.
Money Follows the Person –
Options works with adults with disabilities ages 18-59 who currently live in a nursing home whose goal is to live independently. Qualified individuals are provided with services and support systems needed to move out of nursing homes into their own residence and live independently. Individuals over age 59 who are in nursing homes due to stroke or HIV/AIDS may also qualify for participation in this program.
Equipment Loan Program
Options operates a free equipment loan program for people with disabilities. Items, which are donated by individuals and organizations, vary at any point in time and may include wheelchairs, walkers, canes, grab bars, and other reusable medical equipment.
Options partners with South Suburban Housing Center to provide information about Fair Housing requirements, universal design, and reasonable accommodations and modifications to people with disabilities as well as builders, municipalities, and code enforcers. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, handicap (disability), familial status, or national origin in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings.
Personal Assistance Program
Options recruits, and provides orientation for, personal assistants for people with disabilities. Personal assistants (PAs) are individuals who work for people with disabilities in their homes, assisting them with the tasks of daily living, such as getting out of bed, dressing, preparing meals, and more. Options maintains an active registry of personal assistants for use by consumers who hire and manage their PAs. Options also provides personal assistant management training to people with disabilities who hire PAs.
Vision Services Program
Through funding from the Bureau of Blind Services, Options offers free assistive devices such as magnifiers, talking clocks and watches, and an assortment of aids designed to make living independently easier. To qualify for this program, individuals must be 55 years of age or older and have a vision impairment. Options CIL also coordinates information group meetings for people with vision loss who exchange helpful tips and learn about new assistive devices.
Sign Language Interpreter Referral
Options provides referrals for area business and organizations seeking qualified sign language interpreters to improve communication with individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.