top of page

The WILL Center facilitates independent living for people with disabilities

The WILL Center (The Wabash Independent Living & Learning Center, Inc.) is a center for independent living (CIL). We are a private, not-for-profit, non-residential agency serving people with any disability or combination of disabilities and any age. Our goal is to keep people with disabilities living in the community, in the place and in the environment they choose.

Our services are provided free of charge to our consumers. Our office is located in Terre Haute and service area includes Vigo, Vermillion, Parke, Putnam, Clay, and Owen counties. We are part of a wider network of CILs in Indiana, in the United States, and worldwide.

To best understand us, think of independent living as part of the civil rights movement. It originated in Southern California in the early 1960s among students with disabilities at a major California state university. They faced a world with none of the accommodations we take for granted today: wheelchair ramps, alternative formats for written materials, sign language interpreters, to name only a few. They formed their own self-advocacy group to make these needs public. It worked.

In the 60–plus years since, more than 400 independent living agencies have formed nationwide. In that time frame, legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), along with numerous federal and state regulations regarding accessibility and the prevention of discrimination on the basis of disability have materially improved the lives of millions of Americans. We exist to provide individualized service to support the goals of individuals, and to assist them by advocating at the local, state, and federal level on behalf of the needs of people with disabilities.

We provide five core services. We provide advocacy on both an individual and on a systemic level. Information & Referral is a means for us to connect to the wider community and services available to get individuals the assistance they require through our partners. Independent Living Skills training allows us to work with consumers to improve their ability to self-care, support and advocate on their own. The fourth core service is Peer Support. We are who we serve. The majority of our staff are people with disabilities. The Majority of our Board members are people with disabilities. That is by design. We understand the issues people with disabilities face because we have lived them. We connect our consumers with each other to empower their conversations and mutual support. We also provide transition services. This involved getting people out of nursing homes/institutional care, making sure they are limited to institutional care as their only option, and helping young people transition from the public school environment, whether they go on to higher education, the workforce or into adult living with the needed support and benefits to live comfortably.

We refer to the individuals who come to us for support as consumers. This allows us to emphasize that people should have choices in services they receive and how they are provided. Language matters.

Beyond the core services, we maintain programs that we have found to be widely needed in our community. We have a vibrant wheelchair ramp construction program. There is nothing more fundamental to community-based living than being able to get in and out of your home. We raise money for materials, do site surveys to ensure an ADA-compliant ramp can be built on the home, and coordinate volunteers to construct them. We have a partnership with the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. They build prefabricated sections of the ramp so it can be quickly assembled on site.

Our low vision program serves people with vision challenges, providing specific skills training, assistive technology, and connections to a wider range of services to support their needs. We work with youth transition, advocating with students and families for the educational programs and support they need to excel in school, and to continue that success in adult life.

We are always on the lookout for timely projects that help our neighbors. We recently concluded a fundraiser called “The WILL Center Fan Club.” We used Facebook to raise money to buy box fans – it was much more successful than we anticipated – and distributed them throughout our service area to individuals and partner agencies so people can stay cool in the summer heat.

To continue our work, we are sustained by state contracts, grant support, and individual donations. Please give us a call or drop us a line to learn more about The WILL Center.

Peter Ciancone is the Executive Director of The WILL Center. His email is


Feb 5th Blog Post
bottom of page