About Us

We’ve adapted our programming to meet current needs since our
inception in 1920. Programming is aimed at creating greater
independence and stronger connection to the community.


"Every citizen has a role in creating a community that is disability friendly. Our work begins by connecting people to opportunities.”
- Tim Harrington




View data collected and accomplishments achieved by staff at The Ability Center in 2020



Adapted our programming to fit needs of our community

View strategic plan


Read about activities and program updates

View our latest newsletter


Book a speaker about disability
culture or learn more about programming

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Our Mission

The Ability Center advocates, educates, partners, and provides services supporting people with disabilities to thrive within their community.

Our Vision

Together, we will work to make our community the most disability friendly in the nation.

Service Area

Lucas, Ottawa, Wood, Fulton, Henry, Defiance, and Williams


Our History

1920 - 1960

A Rotary Dream

For 100 years, The Ability Center’s mission has been to support people with disabilities. Programs have adapted to remove current barriers to independent living for people with disabilities in northwest Ohio.


The Toledo Society for Crippled Children is established by The Rotary Club to raise funds to build a hospital and rehabilitation facility for children with polio.


A portion of a bequest from the Edward Drummond Libbey estate is used to modify the “Old Ladies Home” on Central and Collingwood to create the first hospital and convalescent home for children with disabilities. It serves as a temporary space as the Society raises funds for a permanent facility.


The Opportunity Home opens thanks to a gift from the Edward Drummond Libbey estate and strong community support. The hospital is located in what is now Lake Erie Academy on Central Avenue.

1937 - 1960

We serve the area as a hospital, which includes a school for children recovering from polio, until the arrival of the Salk vaccine in the mid-1950s.


1960 - 1990

Transforming with the Times

From 1960-1990, dedicated disability rights activists were successful in establishing federal laws to ensure that people with disabilities had the right to an education and to community inclusion.


A dedicated shift to education transforms the facility into Opportunity Kindergarten, a school for children with disabilities. The school is housed in the Libbey House in the Old West End.


Public school policy legislation welcomes students of all abilities into mainstream schools. The Ability Center evolves again and begins serving adults with disabilities as well as children. The name changes to Toledo Society for the Handicapped.


The movement to create a nationwide network of independent living centers migrates to northwest Ohio. The Board of Trustees changes our mission to become a Center for Independent Living, one of over 500 across the country.


After decades of campaigning, the Americans with Disabilities Act is passed. The Toledo Society for the Handicapped becomes The Ability Center of Greater Toledo.


1990 - 2019

Independent Living Movement

With the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act and a national network of Centers for Independent Living, the focus of The Ability Center moves towards providing core services of advocacy, information and referral, independent living skills training, peer supportand mentoring, and transition.

1990 - 2019

The Ability Center serves seven counties via its main office in Sylvania, OH, and a satellite office in Bryan, OH. Programming aims to create greater independence and stronger connection to the community.

Support and information are provided to community organizations and businesses to offer inclusive programs and services to all citizens.



The Next Century of Service

Through the Disability Dialog campaign we pose the question, “What would it take to make our community the most disability friendly in the country?”

Thoughtful discussions are organized by different community groups in response to our inquiry.


Innovative initiatives are unveiled to highlight our rich history of service, evolution as an agency, and role in creating the most disability-friendly community in the country.


Our Values

We believe in consumer control and community inclusion

  • People with disabilities serve in leadership positions at The Ability Center.
  • We facilitate collaborative efforts between people with and without disabilities to remove barriers to equal opportunity and community inclusion.

We believe in advocacy

  • We have a commitment to changing systems, public policies and attitudes that prevent people with disabilities from living, working and socializing in their communities.

We believe in delivering best practice programs

  • We strive to provide the highest quality independent living programs and services based upon national independent living standards as well as local consumer needs and satisfaction.

We believe in establishing high expectations for success among people with disabilities

  • The Ability Center expects program participants to establish goals and achieve independent living success.
  • We work to change attitudes so the general public can raise their expectations of persons with disabilities.

We believe in the power of partnerships and positive public relations

  • Local businesses, as well as community organizations and government agencies are important partners as we work to create fully accessible communities.
  • We assist individuals with disabilities and their families to tell their stories in an effort to increase awareness and remove barriers in the community.