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Southern Minnesota Independent Living Enterprises and Services

Who We Are

Information and Referral

SMILES maintains and updates an Information and Referral database relating to programs and services provided by SMILES and other disability related organizations throughout Region IX and the State of Minnesota.  Information about specific disabilities, assistive technology, service providers, local resources, government benefits and other disability related resources are stored within this database.

SMILES provides individuals with disabilities, family members, service providers, and the community at large information on options, resources, and issues that influence independent lifestyles.  The information helps to assist in making choices and meeting the Independent Living needs of individuals with disabilities. The information is:

Assistive Technology


    SMILES assists people with disabilities as they work to eliminate barriers faced on a daily basis.  Assistive technology is a primary tool in this effort.

    • Assistive Technology applies to daily living, education, employment, and recreation needs.
    • Program is available to consumers with disabilities, family members, service providers, and the community at large.
    • Assessments are provided to help determine the assistive technology needs regarding daily living, employment, education and recreation.
    • Regional Technology Center allows consumers, family members, and service providers to learn about assistive technology in a hands-on environment.
    • SMILES provides a Lending and Demonstration Library containing a large number of assistive technology devices, including items for daily living, various types of computer keyboards, adaptive computer mice, vision and hearing related items.
    • The Lending and Demonstration library allows consumers to try a piece of technology in their home or work environment to see if it will fulfill their need(s) for up to 30 days.
    • The Loan Program allows a consumer the opportunity to try a device to see if it fulfills the need without having to purchase the item first.
    • SMILES organizes various Assistive Technology demonstrations with the Region 9 area demonstrating the use of assistive technology.

Ramp Project

The purpose of the ramp project is to provide an accessible means to build affordable and functional home ramps.  Ramps help eliminate barriers for people with physical disabilities; one of the first steps to an independent lifestyle.  SMILES works with the home owner to design and build a ramp that suits their needs.  
  • Provide an accessible means for individuals with disabilities to leave and return to their home.
  • Wood ramps are built at the cost of materials plus a set-up fee and any permit fees.
  • Generally take about 4 weeks to complete a wood or temporary aluminum ramp.
  • Program is designed to help individuals and families who have an immediate need for a ramp.
  • Ramps are generally rented out for 4-6 weeks, and can be removed when it is no longer needed, or replaced with a permanent ramp.

Volunteer Opportunities

As in any non-profit organization, volunteers play a significant role in the success of SMILES CIL.

Volunteers serve as peer mentors, senior companions, clerical staff, and wheelchair ramp builders.  They help with a wide variety of recreational events and leisure act ivies annually.  Some also serve on our speakers bureau and make themselves available for speaking engagements to a variety of groups, agencies, and organizations about a range of disability awareness topics.


Advocacy or standing up for one’s rights is a vital component for persons with disabilities. Advocacy by an individual or by an advocacy group normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Advocacy represents a series of actions taken and issues that are addressed in order to change the “what is” to “what should be.” It includes problem solving to reduce or eliminate the barriers that persons with disabilities may encounter.

Independent Living Skills Training

People come into the Independent Living Program by contacting SMILES to inquire about our services themselves, or are referred by other service providers that SMILES collaborates with or through county social services.

They may already know what they need, or SMILES can help them with determining their needs through an assessment. The Independent Living is a goal driven program as determined by the consumer, and continues to provide support as needed.

The Independent Living Program is intended to provide youth and adults with disabilities the opportunity to make appropriate choices and learn the skills that will assist them to achieve the highest level of independence possible. Training sessions are offered both on an individual or small group basis and can take place in a consumer’s home, in the community, or at the Independent Living Center offices. Training sessions provide practical assistance to help people increase their independence in the community and to become aware of resources and options for people with disabilities.

PCA Choice
The PCA Choice Option is an alternative option for the traditional PCA Program in Minnesota.  Unlike traditional PCA services, the Choice Option allows for more control of services by the consumer.
The services covered under the Choice Option are the same as those covered under traditional PCA services.  The services provided under the Choice Option are required to be determined as “medically” necessary and under new legislation, the assessment determines the need for services described in the Service Plan.  The services covered under the Choice Option include:
Activities of Daily Living: Dressing, Grooming, Bathing, Eating, Transfers, Mobility, Positioning and Toileting
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living:  Medical Appointments, Meal planning, shopping, Participation in the community, etc…
Health- Related:  Assistance with self administered medications, Interventions for seizure disorders, Range of motion
Behavior Interventions: Includes observing and redirecting behavior that interferes with completion of PCA services.

What We Do

SMILES Center for Independent Living provides services to individuals with a range of disabilities. SMILES works to increase the availability and improve the quality of community options for independent living and achievement of independent living goals by individuals with significant disabilities on a cross-disability basis, within the geographic area of south central Minnesota. Program core services include:


Information and Referral
Peer Counseling
Independent Living Skills Training



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