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Our Story

A Center of Independent Living

Ability Montana is a nonprofit and one of four Centers of Independent Living (CIL) in the state of Montana. Ability Montana’s mission is to promote independence and advocate for people living with disabilities. To do this, we stand by three values: empowerment, advocacy, and community. We aim to break down the barriers to accessibility and to empower people to live independently, whatever that looks like to them. We advocate for people living with disabilities, and for their right to a self-directed life.

About Our Programs

As with other Centers for Independent Living (CILs), we believe in the power of community and human connection and are proud of the peer-led aspect of CILs. To achieve that, we offer a variety of services and programs built around the five core pillars of independent living.

Each Center for Independent Living in the United States must provide programs and resources around these five core pillars of services.

Our Values




Advocacy Groups Unite


Two Montana advocacy groups wrote grants to the Department of Education for Independent Living and received their grants in 1981. These advocacy groups became known as Montana Independent Living Project and Summit Independent Living Center.

Montana Independent Living Project (mILp) Established Across Montana


Montana Independent Living Project establishes offices in Helena, Bozeman, and Butte. mILp services 14 counties in southwest Montana, including Beaverhead, Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Gallatin, Granite, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Madison, Meagher, Park, Powell, Silver Bow, Sweet Grass, and Wheatland.

North Central Independent Living Services (NCILS), Inc. & Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT), Inc. Open


North Central Independent Living Services (NCILS) opens in Great Falls and Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) opens in Billings.

Black and white image of activists deserted mobility devices and crawling the capitol steps.

The Capitol Crawl Protest

March 1990

The “Capitol Crawl” protest takes place on March 12, 1990. Over 60 disabled activists deserted mobility devices and crawled up the steps of the Capitol to advocate for civil rights and equality for people with disabilities.

A group of people sitting at a table signing a document.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is Signed

July 1990

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a comprehensive civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. It was the world's first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities.

mILp as a Center for Independent Living in Montana


mILp is one of four Centers for Independent Living in the State of Montana and is governed by a consumer-controlled Board of Directors whose lives have been personally impacted by a disability. We are funded in part by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 1992 (Title VII- Independent Living Services), and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Disability Services Division).

Ability Montana Logo

mILp is now Ability Montana!


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