Mission and Philosophy of Options

Options is a non-profit organization committed to assisting individuals with disabilities to live independently in the communities of their choice and to eliminate attitudinal, architectural and communication barriers from the environment.

Vision Statement

Options sees a world where people with disabilities: enjoy the same human and civil rights as citizens without disabilities; live, attend school, work and play in an integrated accessible community; are respected citizens and community leaders; and face no attitudinal, architectural or communication barriers.

Philosophical Tenets

  1. Equal Rights: Persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as all other citizens. This is the basic philosophy of independent living programs.
  2. Integration: Integrated programs, services and facilities are essential for persons with disabilities to enjoy equal access to the cultural, vocational, residential and leisure opportunities open to other people. Options believes all persons have a right to such integrated experiences.
  3. Self-determination: Persons with disabilities are entitled to choose the patterns of life and conditions of everyday living like everyone else. They have the right to privacy, a home, work, going to school, leisure activities, social interaction, sexual relationships and life in a self-determined setting in an integrated community neighborhood.
  4. Equal Responsibility: Just as people with disabilities have the right to self-determination, they have the responsibility to follow through with their commitments in good faith and with due consideration for the rights of others. They are accountable for their own actions.

Principles for Service

  1. Consumer Control: Options is guided and controlled by consumer involvement at all levels of responsibility in the organization. This assures consumer interests will be followed in achieving community integration, self-determination, equal human rights and dignity for people with disabilities in Options's service area.
  2. Consumer Needs Based: Options periodically assesses consumer needs and service resources within its service area to assure its plans, priorities and programs are responsive to and reflective of what people with disabilities need and want.
  3. Individualized Services: The independent living services are designed and arranged with full consumer participation and service flexibility in order to meet the wants and needs of each consumer to the fullest extent.
  4. Community Based Services: Through an integrated community setting and interaction with others, persons with disabilities have the best opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes with which to participate and thrive in the community. Options encourages the use of community services by persons with disabilities. Activities sponsored by Options are located in environments accessible to all citizens.
  5. Least Restrictive Environment: Options provides and advocates for services in the least restrictive environment including residential, vocational, social, recreational and personal services.
  6. Equal Opportunity: A center for independent living controlled by persons with disabilities, Options provides the information, support and resources needed for people with disabilities to live, work and recreate alongside their fellow citizens.

Philosophy and Services

Options Interstate Resource Center for Independent Living is a unique community based non-profit, non-residential consumer oriented organization that is serving fourteen counties of Northeast North Dakota and twelve counties of Northwest Minnesota. Options provides services directly or coordinates indirectly through three main Programs of Information and Referral, Direct Service, and Community Education and Outreach. We help individuals with disabilities increase personal independence in everyday activities, develop self-determination, participate fully in community life and fulfill a variety of social roles with as much personal control as possible. Options initiated services in 1986 through the work of Options's founding Director Jay Johnson who brought together many people with disabilities and interested parties to design the initial services offered as well as many that are offered today.

Options believes every person, whether possessing a disability or not, has a right to make decisions about their own lives. Persons with disabilities, the consumers of our services, have the freedom to choose which aspects of the program they wish to be involved in and which information or services to utilize. We provide the "options" and the consumers of our services have the responsibility to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions. Options believes individuals should be able to take risks, design their own destiny and be allowed to either succeed or fail. But most of all have the right to choose.

Direct Service

Direct Service is based on a structured process of service delivery, which are provided on a one-to-one basis to persons with significant disabilities. The Direct Service Program offers persons with disabilities more intense help in identifying and resolving the barriers that hinder them from living at the highest level of independence possible. This program utilizes a host of services incorporating legislative mandates of service delivery.

Information and Referral

The provision of information to persons with disabilities, service providers, and community members on disability and independent living topics and issues; and, referral assistance to link individuals with appropriate organization, services, and resources.

Community Education and Outreach

This program encompasses various services such as community education, outreach activities, and systems advocacy. Community education predominantly involves educating the general community of the issues and barriers affecting persons with disabilities. Outreach activities are primarily designed to tell people about our service and to increase usage of a center's services. Systems advocacy involves advocating for changes in major systems such as service delivery or building accessibility to enable persons with disabilities to utilize the service in the most effective manner possible.

Technical assistance on accessibility is provided which includes onsite evaluations, plan review, and/or program access. Options has provided assistance to federal, state, and local governmental entities, private businesses, and outdoors facilities as well as for individual homeowners. Currently assistance is offered to homeowners who need ramps built to access their homes. Assistance includes site evaluation, funding alternatives, and if funding is available, construction of a ramp.

Options also provides an equipment loan service for area residents who are working on securing their own equipment and need equipment on a temporary basis. Equipment loan is on a first come first served basis and includes such items as wheelchairs, bath benches, commodes, portable toilet handrails, walker, and crutches.

Options has various pieces of recreational equipment that people can view in order to decide if the equipment would benefit them prior to purchasing. Some of the items include, cross country ski sled, skating, sled, shooting controls, for a rifle or shotgun, electric fishing reels, playing card holders and shufflers, hand operated bicycle, beach chair, beach walker, tree stand for people who are unable to climb ladders, and various electric mobility devises.


Any person with a significant disability is eligible for consideration for Independent Living Services. The determination must be made without regard to age, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, national origin, economic status or type of significant disability of the individual applying for direct services.


The staff person at Options will maintain the dignity and respect of each individual served by maintaining standards of confidentiality. This includes the protection of all personal information, including photographs, personal characteristics, and mailing lists.

Grievance Procedure

Options has grievance procedures for people using our services who feel mistreated. If a person has a problem with any of our services they can call the Executive Director at any time. If the person would rather talk to a person unconnected with the organization, the Client Assistance Program (CAP) has been designated by the Federal Government as the agency to call. The Client Assistance Program will then investigate the grievance, informing you of their results.

Options Executive Director, Randy Sorensen, may be reached at:
1-800-726-3692 or 218-773-6100
CAP for MN is 1-800-292-4150
CAP for ND is 1-800-472-2670

North Dakota CAP Program video summary,