Skip to content


The disAbility Resource Center has been serving the community since 1993. Learn how this small organization has made a tremendous impact on the entire area.

History of Our dRC

The Disability Resource Center, active since 1992, was incorporated in 1993. Its founder and first Executive Director was Faith Smith who, because of her disability, saw a need, along with others, for a Center for Independent Living in the Fredericksburg/Rappahannock region. Smith, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 1991, wanted a central place where people with disabilities could find answers to their questions and where “someone didn’t tell a person with a disability what to do.” The dRC now, as it was at its inception, is consumer-driven. The majority of the dRC staff and Board are people with disabilities, or family members of people with disabilities, and have an understanding of the needs of those that walk in the dRC’s doors. Individuals that come to the dRC set goals and then the dRC supports those individuals by respecting their choices and helping them to find the resources to meet their goals.

Originally located on Princess Anne Street, the dRC moved into its own office on Progress St. in the mid 1990’s. The dRC occupies another building, located on Princess Anne Street, for its Equipment Connection. The center has grown to provide a variety of supports and services in addition to its five core services of Advocacy, Information and Referral, Peer Counseling, Independent Living Skills Training and Transition.

Young lady in wheel chair with sign that says 'Our Home Not Nursing Home'
dRC Staff at Washington DC
President Bush signs ADA act of 1990

History of Centers for Independent Living

In 1972, the first Center for Independent Living was founded by disability activists, led by Ed Roberts, in Berkeley, California. These Centers were created to offer peer support and role modeling, and are run and controlled by persons with disabilities. According to the IL approach, the example of a peer, somebody who has been in a similar situation, can be more powerful than a non-disabled professional’s interventions in analyzing one’s situation, in assuming responsibility for one’s life and in developing coping strategies.

According to the IL Movement, with peer support, everyone – including persons with extensive developmental disabilities – can learn to take more initiative and control over their lives. For example, peer support is used in Independent Living Skills classes where people living with their families or in institutions learn how to run their everyday lives in preparation for living by themselves.

There is a fundamental set of services (Core Services) found in all of the Centers, but there is some variation in the programs that are offered, the funding sources, and the staffing, among other things. Depending on the public services in the community, Centers might assist with housing referral and adaptation, personal assistance referral, or legal aid. Typically, Centers work with local and regional governments to improve infrastructure, raise awareness about disability issues and lobby for legislation that promotes equal opportunities and prohibits discrimination. Effective centers have proven to be in states like California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
Font Resize