Empower Tennessee

Middle Tennessee's Center For Independent Living

Resources & Downloads

Below you will find useful links and downloads to help you in your journey to independence! 

Advocacy Links

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

As a national cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation.

American Association of People with Disabilities

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) was founded as E.A.C.H. in 1978. Most recently the agency was known as Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee.

DRT is Tennessee’s Protection & Advocacy Network provides legal advocacy services to people with disabilities across the state with numerous issues, including employment discrimination, safety in schools, abuse and neglect, and access to community resources and services.

Disability Rights Tennessee 

ILRU, founded in 1977, has a long history of providing research, education and consultation in the areas of independent living, home and community-based services, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ILRU provides training, technical assistance (TA), and materials on a number of topics and in a variety of formats—including on-location, online, and on-demand trainings, Webinars and teleconferences. Individualized TA is provided upon request. Publications and productions are available for download from their website.

Independent Living Research Utilization

The mission of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Safety Services Division is to ensure that all programs, services, and activities of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County are accessible, and that practical use by individuals with disabilities, regardless of whether they are residents or visitors, is not restricted or hindered in violation of standards relating to individuals with disabilities. Disability is defined, with respect to an individual, as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities.

The Division helps all Metro departments and agencies, including Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, by providing support services toward ensuring the accessibility of programs and activities as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Major functions of ADA & Safety Services are completing construction/alteration project ADA compliance reviews and providing informational assistance.

Metro Nashville ADA Compliance Division

The National Council on Independent Living is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

An outcome of the national disability rights and Independent Living Movements, NCIL was founded to embody the values of disability culture and Independent Living philosophy, which creates a new social paradigm and emphasizes that people with disabilities are the best experts on their own needs, that they have crucial and valuable perspective to contribute to society, and are deserving of equal opportunity to decide how to live, work, and take part in their communities.

National Council on Independent Living

The Tennessee Disability Coalition (TDC) is an alliance of organizations and individuals joined to promote the full and equal participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life.

To support this mission, the Coalition offers the following programs:

— Public Policy Program

— Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Program

— Family Voices of Tennessee

— Benefits to Work

— Brain Links

— Discretionary Small Grants Program

The Coalition relies on grassroots support from individuals and families across the state. The work of self-advocates and small local groups is critical to the success of the community’s combined goals. In addition to their contributions, the Coalition has a formal membership of 40+ organizations.

The Coalition and its member organizations represent Tennesseans of every age, economic background, political persuasion and disability. Some are disability-specific groups, service providers or nonprofits that focus on specific issues such as independent living, employment, or assistive technology. Each is committed to collaboration toward improving the lives of all Tennesseans who are touched by a disability.

Tennessee Disability Coalition

This page of the State of Tennessee’s website includes links to information about the Governor, District Representation Maps, and Voting Results. It also links to a Find Your Legislator tool, as well as a list of Tennessee representatives to the US Congress.

Tennessee’s Elected Officials

The Tennessee Health Care Campaign was founded in 1989 as a statewide, volunteer led non-profit, and that is still their structure today.

Their vision has always been that ALL Tennesseans will have affordable, high quality, and equitable access to healthcare.  While the state is closer to that vision than we were in 1989, we all know there is much more work to be done here in Tennessee and at the federal level to realize that vision.

THCC’s mission is to advocate for policies and programs that improve the health and wellbeing of Tennesseans.

Tennessee Health Care Campaign

COVID-19 Resources

The CDC has a page dedicated to sharing information about COVID-19 for people with disabilities. 

If you or someone you care for are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, take steps to prevent getting sick. In addition to practicing everyday preventive actions, people with disabilities who have direct support providers can help protect themselves from respiratory illness.

More information can be found at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-disabilities.html

Links to the following resources have been curated by ILRU and are available on the ILRU website along with trainings, publications and other resources that are produced in-house. 

Administration for Community Living (ACL)

Other Federal Government Resources

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Department of Education

Health and Human Services (HHS)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Resources from Centers for Independent Living and the IL-NET T&TA Center

Resources from Disability Organizations

Resources from Other Sources

IL-NET National T&TA Center’s Training on COVID-19


Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) offers several plain-language guides in both English and Spanish about COVID-19 on their Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) project website.

Topics include:

— Know Your Rights: People with Disabilities Can Have a Supporter in the Hospital during COVID-19

— COVID-19 Vaccine Information in Plain Language

— A Plain Language Toolkit on COVID-19


Information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 are found on this page of the State of Tennessee website.

They point out that cloth face coverings (masks) are an important step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with other everyday preventive actions, including social distancing and frequent handwashing.


Visit this page on the State of Tennessee’s website to keep up with the latest information that you need in order to stay informed about how to fight COVID-19.


Use this tool on the State of Tennessee’s website to assess your next steps if you are concerned about your risk of COVID-19.

Remember: when in doubt, get tested.


Looking for a testing site close to you? Use this tool on the State of Tennessee’s website to search for testing site options.


Use this tool on the State of Tennessee’s website to determine your COVID-19 vaccine distribution phase.

While the vaccine supply is limited it is necessary to prioritize who receives it, with people who are at highest risk of getting the virus or becoming seriously ill receiving it first. The state has worked with a group of stakeholders and followed federal guidance to develop a vaccine distribution plan.


Information regarding COVID-19 vaccines can be found on this page of the State of Tennessee website. Tennesseans are encouraged to discuss with their doctor if a COVID-19 vaccine is right for them.


The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD) updates this page frequently with a variety of resources, memos, and information about COVID-19 targeted to Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


This page of the FDA’s website includes the latest information about COVID-19 including updates about the vaccines, links to additional resources, and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in both English and Spanish. 

Some of the topics covered include: Coronavirus Testing, Coronavirus Treatments, COVID-19 Vaccines, Investigational Convalescent Plasma, Information for People with Health Conditions, Fraudulent Products, Food Safety, Innovation, Remdesivir, and Hand Sanitizer Safety.


This page on the Department of Treasury’s website is part of their Personal Finance and Consumer Protection section and offers steps for quicker financial relief. 

There are links on this page to topics such as: General Tips for Protecting Yourself Financially during the COVID Pandemic; General Information for Bank and Credit Union Customers; Mortgage and Housing Assistance; Consumer Credit and Other Loans And Debt; Telephone, Cellphone, and Internet; Utility Bills (Water, Gas/Oil, Electricity); and Five Things You Can Do to Avoid Coronavirus Scams.


This page on the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs website includes information about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting people with disabilities and how policies can improve those outcomes.


Informational & Resource Links

Dental Lifeline Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1974, that nationally provides access to dental care and education for people who cannot afford it and:

— have a permanent disability, or

— who are elderly: age 65 or older, or

— who are medically fragile


New Eyes For The Needy is a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1932 to improve the vision of the poor. New Eyes for The Needy purchases new prescription eyeglasses for children and adults in the United States who cannot afford glasses on their own. They operate with a small staff and dedicated volunteers corps and are overseen by a board of trustees. The paid staff consists of an executive director, and two part-time US program coordinators. 

New Eyes is a United Way agency.


Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that provides food and services to people each year. Together, we are the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. When you contribute to Feeding America, you are joining our efforts in nearly every community in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.

A food bank is the warehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community.

A food pantry functions as the arms that reach out to that community directly. Some use mobile food pantries, which reach people in areas of high need.


The Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability & Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR) works with an Expert Review Panel to ensure that their resources and products respond to the needs of their intended audiences and that they are accessible and helpful in making research-informed decisions to accomplish their mission of improving the lives of people with disabilities.


The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID), a national membership organization, plays a leading role in advocating for excellence in the delivery of interpretation and transliteration services between people who use sign language and people who use spoken language. In collaboration with the Deaf community, RID supports our members and encourages the growth of the profession through the establishment of a national standard for qualified sign language interpreters and transliterators, ongoing professional development and adherence to a code of professional conduct.

RID’s function is to support our membership by providing the foundation needed to launch and sustain careers while ensuring quality service to the Deaf community. 

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)

The Southeast ADA Center (formerly known as Southeast DBTAC) provides information, training, and guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and disability access tailored to the needs of business, government, and individuals at local, state, and regional levels.

They also conduct research to reduce and eliminate barriers to employment and economic self-sufficiency and to increase the civic and social participation of Americans with disabilities.

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, they serve as the regional office for an extended leadership network of Local and State Affiliates from eight states in the U.S. Southeast Region: Alabama (AL), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Kentucky (KY), Mississippi (MS), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), and Tennessee (TN).

Southeast ADA Center

United Spinal Association is a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to empowering people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, to live successful and fulfilling lives.

Directed by people with disabilities, United Spinal Association works to overcome the stigma of disability and remove physical barriers to inclusion for wheelchair users. We are united in our belief that business, people with disabilities and society all benefit from providing equal opportunity to pursue passions, employment, and recreational opportunities. Our goal is to actively support people with SCI/D through valuable programs and services that maximize independence and create opportunities to become leaders, advocates, and innovators.

United Spinal transforms the lives of people with SCI/D by:

— Advocating for enforcement and enhancement of disability rights, including access to healthcare, mobility equipment, public transportation, rehabilitation, community services and supports, and the built environment

— Empowering our members, their loved ones, care providers and professionals with resources, one-on-one assistance, and peer support

— Promoting independence through employment, assisting individuals with employment opportunities, and ensuring that wheelchair users have equal access to housing, shopping and recreational opportunities

— Promoting civic participation and self-advocacy


The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.

ODEP’s mission is to develop and influence policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

To fulfill this mission, ODEP promotes the adoption and implementation of ODEP policy strategies and effective practices — meaning those that ODEP has developed and/or validated — that will impact the employment of people with disabilities. ODEP’s approach is to drive systems and practice changes by disseminating ODEP policy strategies and effective practices, sharing information, and providing technical assistance to government agencies, service providers and non-governmental entities, as well as public and private employers. Through these activities, ODEP contributes to the achievement of: DOL’s Strategic Goal 1: Support the ability of all Americans to find good jobs, and Strategic Objective 1.3: Develop evidence-based policies, practices, and tools to foster a more inclusive workforce to increase quality employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.


Services in Tennessee

Autism Tennessee provides education, support, and advocacy programs to individuals, families, and the community.

Autism Tennessee

The mission of the Brain Injury Association of Tennessee (BIAT) is to ensure hope and support by providing brain injury prevention, awareness, education, and advocacy to survivors and their families. Our vision is that our community unites to maximize the quality of life of those who are affected by brain injury.


The disABILITY Resource Center (dRC) is a Center for Independent Living. We are a community-based non-residential program of services. We are designed to assist people with disabilities to attain independent lives. In order to achieve independence, we strive to eliminate physical and attitudinal barriers in our community.

Disability Resource Center

Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (DSAMT) is a community of individuals with Down syndrome, self-advocates and their families, educators and disability professionals. They work to offer accurate and up-to-date information on Down syndrome, and to connect hundreds of families to support, programs, education, advocacy and other families.


The Healthy Nashville Leadership Council is responsible for drawing attention to important public health problems and encouraging ownership of their solutions. Community-wide action is required to improve health- including action by individuals, families, schools, employers and businesses, community groups, religious communities, and government.

The Council seeks to improve health and quality of life for those who live, work, learn, worship, and play in Nashville. The Council’s vision is a healthy Nashville that has a culture of compassion and well-being where all people belong, thrive and prosper.

Healthy Nashville Leadership Council

The Jackson Center for Independent Living (JCIL) is a community based, nonresidential, consumer controlled program of services designed to enable persons with disabilities to achieve maximum independence and fully participate in all aspects of community life.

Jackson Center for Independent Living

The Memphis Center for Independent Living (MCIL) is a community based, nonresidential, consumer controlled program of services designed to enable persons with disabilities to achieve maximum independence and fully participate in all aspects of community life.

Memphis Center for Independent Living

Nashville Community Education is sponsored by the Metropolitan Nashville Community Education Commission of the Metropolitan Government. They seek to enrich the diverse fabric of Nashville through personal and professional educational opportunities.

The NCE program is filled with diverse, affordable offerings like sewing, social media, and Spanish, just to name a few. Nashville Community Education seeks to enrich the community’s personal and professional skills with offerings led by passionate instructors during the Spring, Summer and Fall sessions. Whether you’re seeking an opportunity to advance your career, pick up a new hobby, share your passion or meet new people in a relaxed environment, NCE welcomes you to join a class!

Metro Nashville Community Education

The Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind (MTCB) is one of five 501c3 not-for-profit chapters across the state whose members are concerned about the dignity and well-being of blind people and vision impaired Middle Tennesseans. Members include persons who are blind, losing vision, or are parents of a child who is blind or visually impaired or fully sighted. They welcome anyone who wishes to work toward equal rights and full participation in society for everyone with a disability. The chapter’s purpose is:

— to expand the social, economic and cultural opportunities for blind persons in Tennessee;

— to encourage and assist such persons in becoming more active, productive and responsible member of the community;

— to enhance the educational and rehabilitative services available to blind persons in Tennessee;

— to inform blind persons of available opportunities and services in education, employment, recreation, and other areas of common concern;

— to inform the general public of the capabilities and accomplishments of blind persons and of the importance of providing specialized education to assist such persons to meet their full responsibilities as citizens.

Mid-Tennessee Council for the Blind

The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), is an independent nonprofit governed by people with disabilities. Their goal is to advance advocacy and independence for Tennesseans with disabilities by collaborating with all interested parties. They believe that people with disabilities are the best experts on their needs.

The mission of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) of Tennessee is to promote and support the independent living philosophy through the implementation of the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The Council is composed of members who provide statewide representation; the majority of whom are individuals with disabilities. SILC members are appointed by the Governor.

The S.I.L.C. is an independent leadership not-for-profit organization that represents cross disability, consumer control, choice and empowerment. The Council is a governor appointed body comprised of Tennesseans with diverse disabilities from throughout the state. The SILC promotes the Independent Living (IL) philosophy in Tennessee by developing the State Plan for Independent Living in collaboration with the Tennessee Division of Rehabilitation Services; promotes and supports Centers for Independent Living that are community based, consumer controlled non-residential centers conducting advocacy, providing information and referral, directing IL skills training and supporting peer counseling. The SILC is federally mandated and funded under the Rehabilitation Act, 1992 Amendment, Title VII.

Statewide Independent Living Council of Tennessee

STEP’s Mission is to serve families of children and youth, young adults, and those who are involved in their lives.

We provide accurate, timely, and relevant information and training related to special education rights, equal access to quality education, and connections to community resources.

We believe that parents and caregivers are their children’s best advocates, and that youth disabilities should be self-advocates.

We know that families and youth who are informed, empowered, and engaged can effectively collaborate as part of a team for services and supports that will lead to improved outcomes and success in life.

STEP’s vision is to ensure a brighter future for children and youth in Tennessee, with an emphasis on those with disabilities, special health care needs, and mental health needs.

La misión de STEP es servir a familias de niños, jóvenes y adultos jóvenes y todos los que esten involucrados en la vida de ellos.

Nosotros proporcionamos información precisa, oportuna y relevante, además capacitaciones sobre los derechos de educación especial, igualdad de acceso a la educación y acceso a recursos de la comunidad.

Nosotros creemos que los padres y guardianes son los mejores defensores de los derechos de sus hijos, y así también los jóvenes con discapacidades deberían ser autodefensores de sus derechos.

Nosotros sabemos que las familias y los jóvenes informados,  empoderados  y comprometidos pueden  ser parte del  equipo para  alcanzar servicios y apoyos que conduzcan a mejores resultados y éxitos  en la vida.

La visión de STEP es asegurar un futuro brillante para los niños y jóvenes en Tennessee, con énfasis en aquellos con discapacidades, necesidades especiales de cuidado médico y salud mental.

Support and Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP)


Tennessee Disability Pathfinder is a statewide multilingual information and referral service for disability resources operated by Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Information is available via a phone and email helpline, as well as an online searchable database containing over 3,000 agencies.

Pathfinder’s Multicultural Outreach and Camino Seguro programs are equipped to help members of the multicultural, refugee and immigrant communities find needed disability services and supports. These programs also provide training to organizations serving multicultural communities on how to better address disability-related needs. 

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder

Tennessee Respite Coalition’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for family caregivers through respite. They offer a helpline, a voucher program, and a senior companion program.

Tennessee Respite Coalition

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) created the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Free Tax Prep Program to provide free tax preparation for low-income and at-risk taxpayers using community partners and volunteers. Each year, United Way volunteers help thousands of individuals and families prepare their taxes.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance