therapists-071112A Brief History…

Founding of the Center

The Ability Center of Greater Toledo began as a Rotarian dream.

Established in December 1920 as the Toledo Society for Crippled Children, we began raising community funds to build a hospital/rehabilitation facility for children (and, later, adults) with polio. With an initial gift of $50,000 from Edward Drummond Libbey and his wife, Florence Scott Libbey, and strong support from the community, Opportunity Home became a reality in 1937. We served the area as a hospital, which included a school for the children who spent so much time recovering from polio, until the advent of the Salk vaccine in the mid-1950s. For all of this time, the hospital was located in what is now Lake Erie Academy on Central Avenue.


Scenes from the Past…

These are historical photos from The Ability Center’s past as a rehabilitation facility for children.



libbeyhouse-72In the early 1960s, after the hospital closed, we became Opportunity Kindergarten, providing educational opportunities for children with disabilities. Relocated to The Edward Drummond Libbey House on Scottwood Avenue, we remained a kindergarten until 1976, when laws changed to allow for “mainstreaming” disabled students in regular schools. The Center evolved again, becoming the Toledo Society for the Handicapped. We dedicated ourselves to providing comprehensive services to all people living with disabilities in the community.

By 1989, the movement to create a nationwide network of centers, which held with the Independent Living philosophy, expanded and took hold in northwest Ohio. The Board of Trustees changed the Center’s mission to that of a Center for Independent Living (CIL). In keeping with this mission change, in 1990, the Toledo Society for the Handicapped became The Ability Center of Greater Toledo.


The Ability Center serves seven northwestern Ohio counties (Lucas, Ottawa, Wood, Fulton, Henry, Defiance and Williams) via its main office in Sylvania, and satellite offices in Bryan and Port Clinton. The Center offers a wide range of services and opportunities designed to assist people with disabilities in gaining, or maintaining, independence in everyday living. We also provide information and support to community organizations and businesses necessary for providing inclusive programs and services to all citizens.