Independent Resources, Inc. (IRI) is a Federally funded, private non-profit, non-residential organization providing services to persons with disabilities. IRI is a statewide organization with offices located in Wilmington, Dover and Dagsboro. Each office provides services that consumers consider critical in gaining control over their lives; services they feel will enable them to function in the community of their choosing.
IRI acts as a resource center to persons with varying disabilities as well as a resource for educating the public, organizations that serve persons with disabilities, and policy makers regarding issues that affect the disability community. “Centers for Independent Living”, such as IRI, are not unique to Delaware, and at last count there were well over 300 existing across the country. Like all Centers such as these, IRI provides four core services: Advocacy, Information and Referral, Peer Counseling/Peer Support and Independent Living Skills Training. We go further to provide such other services to the community as: Sensitivity Training, Community Education and Outreach, Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Computer Training for the Blind, a Transition Program, and an Employment Network.
Read on to learn more about each of the services available at Independent Resources.
Independent Resources, Inc. (IRI) provides two kinds of advocacy: (1) Self Advocacy, which involves IRI staff working with persons with disabilities, teaching them how to go about obtaining necessary support services from other agencies in the community and (2) Community or Systems Advocacy, which involves IRI staff, board members and volunteers initiating activities to make changes in the community that make it easier for persons with disabilities to better access needed services.
Information and Referral
IRI maintains information on availability in the community of accessible housing, transportation and other services. An extensive network of contacts is available to assist staff in accessing needed information or make appropriate referrals.
Peer Counseling/Peer Support
Peer support services offers a consumer the opportunity to work with another person with a disability to explore options, make informed decisions, and achieve increased self-control over his/her life. For example, they may work together on adjusting to a newly acquired disability, how to best cope with changes in living arrangements, or learning to use community services more effectively.
Independent Living Skills Training
IRI offers instruction to help people with disabilities gain skills that will enable them to live more independently. This instruction is offered on a one-to-one basis when possible, course curricula is dependent on what the individual feels he/she most needs to be more independent.
Training provided to area businesses, organizations, and individuals designed to meet the specific needs of the audience. Topics may include; how to use a TTY, reasonable accommodations in the work place, and requesting and using an interpreter.
Community Education and Outreach
Independent Resources, Inc. offers public education workshops for school systems, neighborhood organizations, and other community and civic groups that provide information about independent living, and issues affecting persons with hearing loss.
Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
In an effort to provide services to unserved/underserved populations, Independent Resources developed programming to meet the needs of Delaware’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Each of IRI’s three locations is equipped with TTY’s, as well as a Sorenson Video Phone. At present, there are two full-time staff dedicated to working with this program who sign proficiently, thus making the program accessible to consumers who come in without appointments. Through this program, IRI is able to make their core services available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing in an accessible format.
Computer Training for the Blind
Another specific program offered by IRI is its computer training program for individuals who are blind. Instruction is provided to persons with varying levels of visual impairments utilizing computers with the most widely used adaptive software. Curriculum is developed based on individual need and skill level. Class times are usually one and a half hours in length, and are on a one-to-one basis. Students receive basic computer skills training along with classes on Internet access. Each student, at the completion of the course, will be assisted in obtaining a computer with all of the necessary adaptive software to enable them to continue using the skills they have learned and apply them to their everyday tasks.
The Community Works Partnership (CWP), is another of the successful programs sponsored by Independent Resources. The focus of the program is to identify individuals with disabilities or long-term illness in nursing facilities or in the community who desire to live a more independent lifestyle. Staff will establish an ongoing rapport with each participant in an effort to assist them in identifying their specific needs. The program itself consist of a series of bi-weekly workshops where staff and outside presenters work with the participants on subjects such as budgeting, housing concerns, transportation, Social Security Benefits as well as address matters of personal care concerns and other related matters. The overall goal of CWP is to prepare the consumers to become contributing members of the community of their choosing, and to be able to meet the challenges that they will be encountering.
Aside from the above referenced programs, Independent Resources Inc. has been selected as one of several Employment Networks in Delaware working with the Social Security Administration on the Ticket to Work program. The purpose of which is to expand the universe of service providers available to individuals who are entitled to Social Security benefits based on disability, or eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits based on disability or blindness in obtaining the services necessary to find, enter, and retain employment.