Based on our commitment to the Independent Living philosophy, one of the fundamental principles of the Home Usability Network is to ensure that the process remains “consumer-driven.” This means that the person with the disability, a family member, or some other person designated by the disabled person is the one who:
Starts the process—they make initial contact with the Center for Independent Living (CIL).
Directs the process—to the extent they are comfortable with knowing the options, they decide what it is they want done. This does not exclude the input of the CIL staff person or any other people who may have expertise to offer, especially if it is information not known by the consumer.
Monitors the process—the consumer makes sure the process is done in the way they want and in a timely and efficient manner. Again, some of this may be beyond the individual’s control or knowledge base so assistance may be provided by the CIL staff, friends, or family.
Evaluates the process—did the person get what he or she wanted, or better? The consumer is the one who best determines this.
In the ideal situation, the person needing assistance understands the problem, can articulate what they need or want, and decides if it was done sufficiently. There are many times when a consumer knows there is a problem, but has no idea how to fix it. This is where the Home Usability Network plays a role. Various professionals in the HUN can provide their expertise to help determine the best way to address a particular usability or accommodation need.
What we don’t want to happen is for a consumer to approach a CIL for assistance, get directed to the HUN and have the HUN members take over by deciding what modification should be made and how without getting any input from the consumer. The consumer should be engaged in the process to the greatest extent possible. Ensuring this is the responsibility of both the CIL staff facilitator and the consumer.