The movement to integrate peoples with disabilities into mainstream society is rooted in cultural awareness and technological advances that developed after World War II. What I find most fascinating is that the people who are the most physically dependent are actually messengers of a libertarian philosophy that generally runs counter to the values of the larger society.
The Independence Living movement believes that everyone is entitled to live as independently as possible regardless of one’s physical capacity, each person should be enabled to exercise maximum control over their lives. It is not independence in a literal sense, but independence in a philosophical sense.
The presence of people with disabilities provides a fresh perspective on how we can define what being a person means. People who are completely physically dependent are given control over their own lives to the fullest extent they can have. We have so much more to learn from their example – it can help us to understand life and liberty. The disabled community do not self-identify so strongly with their disability, but with what they are able to do. It is a magical transformation of perspective that all of us stand to benefit from.
The hidden challenge that faces the Independent Living movement is its perversion to an unreasonable ideology. The fundamental assumption is that people have every right to live life according to their own terms, but this breaks down when the demands of this self-actualization creates an unreasonable burden on others or the individual does not possess the competence to make those decisions. Caution and the test for reasonableness needs to be practiced within any philosophical system.