MT UCEDD Improving Independence of People with Disabilities in South Korea

October 7, 2013

The independent living movement in South Korea is young, vibrant and ready to make South Korea accessible for all people with disabilities. In August, Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Director of Rural Health Research for the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities, supported that vision by conducting Living Well with a Disability facilitator training in Seoul. More than 85 staff and directors from Centers for Independent Living (CIL) attended the training.

"Korean CILs know about independent living philosophy, but are still learning how to implement it," commented Chano Park, director of the Seoul Center for Independent Living. "The Living Well training taught us more about how to help people live independently."

The training sessions were translated by Dr. Kyung Mee Kim from Soongsil University. Dr. Kim learned about the Living Well with a Disability curriculum while on sabbatical at the University of Kansas. Believing it was needed and would be well received by the Korean CILs, she and her research team were funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to translate the curriculum into Korean. Following the August training, she said, "This training really pushed the CILs to think about the specific skills Korean people with disabilities need to live independently. I'm very pleased with how much they liked the training."

Dr. Ravesloot noted, "The independent living movement is growing very rapidly in Korea. About half of the participants were from outlying and rural areas. For many, this was their first IL skills training course. It was my deep honor to contribute to their vision."

The training was hosted by the Korean Federation of Centers for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities (KOIL) and funded by a South Korean government agency.