Empowering the Differently-Abled: Why It’s a Vital Mission

A candid conversation about Elizabeth Howe’s work with The Center for Independent Living promotes inclusion and understanding for the differently-abled.

At the crossroads of Orlando’s vibrant urban landscape stands a monumental institution, The Center for Independent Living (CIL). More than just a beacon for the differently-abled, CIL epitomizes the very spirit of inclusivity and understanding. Central Florida Lifestyle took the opportunity to delve into the heart of this institution by conversing with Elizabeth Howe, the linchpin behind CIL’s enduring mission.

Howe’s journey with CIL

“I started here in May of 1994,” she recalls with clarity, “and began as their fiscal administrator, diving into the finance side. Fast forward to today, and I’ve been the executive director since April 2001.” 

Yet, amidst her commitments, Howe cherishes something more fundamental: “I value time. The moments I spend with family, with friends. It’s such a scarce commodity nowadays,” she muses, emphasizing the need to be present and enjoy life’s fleeting moments.

The challenges faced by the differently-abled are manifold, and Howe is acutely aware of them. She highlights the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

 “The ADA was signed into law as our primary piece of legislation. Yet, attitudes often diverge from these legislations,” she says. “At CIL, our goal is to dismantle those attitudinal barriers, truly integrating differently-abled individuals into the fabric of society.”

Upcoming Initiatives for the Differently-Abled

With a forward-looking approach, Howe divulges CIL’s upcoming initiatives. She also underscores the gravity of employment advocacy. 

“Our new strategic plan focuses on expanding services for youth in transition, bridging the chasm between school and the vastness of adulthood,” Howe says. “Sadly, our country sees a significant underemployment of individuals with disabilities. Our role? To advocate, guide and support them in their job pursuits.”

Housing Challenges

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Howe candidly discusses the pressing challenges, especially in Central Florida. 

Housing, particularly affordable and accessible housing, is a critical concern. Through our home accessibility program, we’re tirelessly working to make homes more accommodating, ensuring everyone has a place they can call their own.”

When asked about community assistance, Howe’s appeal is straightforward and heartfelt. 

“Our most pressing need? Materials for our home accessibility program – ramps, grab bars or any durable medical equipment.”

Concluding our enlightening conversation, Howe imparts a universal message, “People with disabilities? They’re like any of us, deserving every bit of respect and dignity.” 

Howe ensures this message resonates throughout Central Florida through her unwavering commitment and CIL’s transformative initiatives.

For a deeper dive into CIL’s groundbreaking work or to extend your support, visit https://cilorlando.org/.

Watch Elizabeth Howe’s interview on our YouTube channel!


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Written by Catie Moore

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