Independently in LA"
|UCLA and the Westside Center
for Independent Living have launched a groundbreaking online resource
for people with disabilities, bringing together cutting-edge interactive
mapping technology with grassroots knowledge and government databases
to promote independent living.
The Living Independently in Los Angeles (LILA) information system
enables users to navigate Los Angeles and learn about community resources-ranging
from the locations of wheelchair repair shops to community service
agencies to clubs and social activities-through
cyberspace. LILA was publicly
launched March 19th at the Westside Center for Independent Living
in Los Angeles (WCIL).
Through a collaboration
of public, private and academic institutions, LILA was developed by
WCIL the Advanced Policy Institute of the UCLA School of Public Policy
and Social Research, in partnership with the City and County of Los
Angeles. In it's development phase, major funding for LILA has been
provided by Microsoft Corporation and the Community Technology Foundation
of California. As the website grows and develops further, funding
from the County and City of Los Angeles will allow local government
data of interest to people with disabilities to be included among
LILA's many resources.
"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
With its easily accessible resources and information, the LILA project
creates shared knowledge and empowers people with disabilities by
promoting independent living, adds Mary Ann Jones, executive director
of the Westside Center for Independent Living.
"What makes the project truly dynamic and interactive is that
LILA is an interactive project. People with disabilities throughout
Los Angeles County are 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 to
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 a community bulletin board
to generate discussion and participation in disability issues. There
are also links to hundreds of local, state and national websites addressing
a wide range of disability issues and needs.
"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. "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 and
Hewlett Packard Corporation, which donated the server computers.
"We've been very fortunate to have gotten a lot of support for
LILA from many different sources," said Toy. "I think we've
captivated people with an exciting new way to share knowledge and
create better communities."
Contact Alan Toy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit LILA at http://lila.ucla.edu
for information on accessibility around Los Angeles.