UCLA and the Westside Center
for Independent Living will unveil a groundbreaking online resource
on March 19, for people with disabilities, bringing together interactive
mapping technology with grassroots knowledge and government databases
to promote independent living.
The Living Independently in
Los Angeles (LILA) information system (http://lila.ucla.edu)
will enable users to navigate Los Angeles and learn about community
resources-ranging from the locations of wheelchair repair shops
to publicly subsidized, accessible apartments for rent-through cyberspace.
The public demonstration and launch will take place at 10 a.m. at
the Westside Center for Independent Living, 12901 Venice Blvd. in
Through a collaboration of
public, private and academic institutions, LILA was developed by
the Westside Center for Independent Living and the Advanced Policy
Institute of the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research,
in partnership with the City and County of Los Angeles. Major funding
has been provided by Microsoft Corporation and the Community Technology
Foundation of California.
"LILA is a prototype for a
regionally based information system designed to narrow the digital
divide and empower the disability community," said Alan Toy, UCLA
project director who is overseeing the development of LILA. "LILA
provides a one-stop resource center and a virtual community for
people with disabilities to gather and share information online.
It is a tool to take people out of their homes and into the community."
With its easily accessible
resources and information, the LILA project creates shared knowledge
and empowers people with disabilities by promoting independent living,
said Mary Ann Jones, executive director of the Westside Center for
"What makes the project truly
dynamic and interactive is that people with disabilities throughout
Los Angeles County will be able to input their own experiences and
knowledge into the site," Jones said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor
Zev Yaroslavsky was instrumental in enabling LILA to receive pertinent
county resources for people with disabilities, including information
about social service, health and rehabilitation programs as well
as data sets such as Americans with Disabilities Act access features
of public buildings.
"These services are very much
in demand, but it's an overwhelming task for those who need them
to wade through all the agencies and programs involved,"
Yaroslavsky said. "Quick and easy on-line access will empower people
with disabilities to take full advantage of the assistance available
The website provides access
to disability-related information such as equipment needs, adaptive
technology, medical services, recreational programs, accessible
trails and beaches, social clubs, support networks, and other social
services. Ultimately, users will be able to find the access features
of public buildings, such as libraries and courthouses, or map the
accessible bus stops, blue parking curbs, and curb cuts to pinpoint
accessible paths of travel, Toy said.
The site also features a public
forum and an advocacy section to generate discussion and action
around disability issues and links to hundreds of local, state and
national websites addressing a wide range of disability issues and
"Microsoft has seen first-hand
how advances in technology have made a strong impact on the lives
of individuals with disabilities and can be a key component in enabling
people with disabilities to engage with their local community,"
said Bruce Brooks, director of community affairs for Microsoft Corp.
"We are a proud supporter of the LILA program in its use of technology
to create an information solution here in Los Angeles."
The LILA project also received
support from the GTE Foundation. The Community Technology Foundation
of California aims to bring basic and advanced telecommunications
technology to under-served communities throughout California.