3016 N McColl Rd Ste B, McAllen, TX 78501

About VAIL

Learn how to become independent


Independent Living philosophy emphasizes consumer control, the idea that people with disabilities are the best experts on their own needs, having crucial and valuable perspective to contribute and deserving of equal opportunity to decide how to live, work, and take part in their communities, particularly in reference to services that powerfully affect their day-to-day lives and access to independence.


Self-advocacy Services: A 22-year-old woman with cerebral palsy residing in McAllen, TX requested advocacy services from VAIL. The consumer stated that she would like to be able to learn how to advocate for herself and be involved in decision making roles or local leadership positions. The consumer received services from our Peer Advocacy and Leadership Program. The consumer reported that after completed the program she felt that she advocates for herself and others more often, she is better at saying what she wants and what is important to her, is participating in more advocacy activities in her community, and is now serving on a local coalition as vice president.

Assistive Technology Demonstration Lab

VAIL has a demonstration lab with assitive technology that allows for hands on training

VAIL has a mutual agreement with the University of Texas at Austin Assistive
Technology Demonstration Center, Texas Center on Disability Studies, Texas Technical Access
Program. This agreement will allow VAIL to have access to laptop computers equipped with various
assistive technology programs for people with disabilities. VAIL is a demonstration center where
individuals are able to test the new technology before purchasing. The demonstration center is mobile
and allows VAIL to move the project from headquarters to the Laredo center on a monthly basis or to
outreach events in the community.

Why centers for independent living are unique:

The Independent Living Model sees the problem differently and understands disability as a construct of society. In this model, the problem lies in the environment, not the individual. Though many people have physical, intellectual, or mental attributes that deviate from the ‘norm,’ disability is manifested in society through purposefully created and maintained physical, programmatic, and attitudinal barriers.

Learn more about the IL movement Here!

5 core services


We provide independent living skills to enhance everyday skills such as meal preparation, money management, time management, medication management, use of public transportation, job-seeking skills, and other skills that want to be learn. 


We provide our consumers with the knowledge of resources available to them in the community regarding housing, employment, financial assistance, transportation, healthcare, personal assistance services, assistive technology, and access to durable medical equipment. 


VAIL can provide training in self-advocacy skills and receive assistance advocating for accommodations, equal access, and other rights.

Systems advocacy allows us to support policy changes that improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
Examples of the activities conducted are holding candidate forums, teaching individuals how to provide testimony during legislative session, and provide leadership courses.

VAIL can help with providing information on how older adults with dsiabilities can move from nursing homes and other institutions to home and community-based residences. o

VAIL tranistion specialist can also help youth with disbailities transition from high school to employment and post-secondary education opportunities.

Transition services also include supporting diversion. These are services provided to individuals who may be at risk of being institutionalized. 


VAIL has peer counselors with disabilities who can empathize more easily with our consumers’ situation to ensure their needs are being identified and goals are being accomplished. 


Don’t take our word for it – here’s what our clients say:

I highly recommend VAIL i have experienced their dedication to service the community.

Laura Rivero

I started taking ASL classes with VAIL. I advanced rather quickly. They were excellent and even helped me get hired with the Register School for the Deaf as an aide. They’re so awesome! They truly help people


Our Team

Meet our wonderful staff!

Susan Nelson

Executive Director

Dr. Lidia Fonseca

Director of Programs

Melinda Rios

Executive Administrative Assistant

Jessica Johnson


Jeanpaul Powell

McAllen- Receptionist

Vilma Hernandez

IL Purchasing Program Manager

Brooke Hernandez

Deaf Services Program Manager

Ricardo Medina

IL Core Program Manager

Cassie Cervantes

CLASS  Program Manager

Jennifer Garza

CLASS Case Manager

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Brittanie Trejo

CLASS Case Manager

Teresa Stern

CLASS Assistant

Dacia Tijerina

IL Purchasing Service Coordinator

Antonio Cantu

IL Purchasing Service Coordinator

Ida Mireles

IL Purchasing Service Coodinator

Jesus Sanchez

Independent Living Specialist

Nora Salas

Laredo Office Manager

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Jennifer Espino

Independent Living Specialist

Mario Martinez

Independent Living Specialist

Rollie Perez

Deaf IL Specialist


Deaf IL Specialist

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Fabian Gutierrez

Maintenance Engineeer

Dr. Matthew Atterberry

Public Health Instructor

Jorge Villarreal

EPublic Health Outreach Coordinator

Genesis Lezama

Peer & Transition Counselor

Laurie Gonzalez

Mobility Program Manager

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Jorge Garcia

Maintenance Engineer