Web Site Created by UCLA and Westside Center for Independent Living Helps People With Disabilities Navigate Los Angeles Resources in Cyberspace
UCLA and the Westside Center for Independent Living will unveil a groundbreaking online resource today (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 Venice.
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 Independent Living.
“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 online access will empower people with disabilities to take full advantage of the assistance available to them.”
The Web site 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 Web sites addressing a wide range of disability issues and needs.
“Microsoft has seen firsthand 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.