LCiL has its origins in the work of the Lothian Independent Living Group (LILG), a consumer group of disabled people, and the Lothian Coalition of Disabled People (LCDP), the former Lothian-wide campaigning organisation for disabled people. Both groups were concerned with equality for disabled people and subscribed to the Independent Living philosophy. In 1989, LILG and LCDP recognised the importance of establishing an organisation that would provide a range of services based on needs directly identified by local disabled people, that would adhere to the social model of disability, and that would be directly accountable to disabled people.
Three people had already convinced Lothian Region Social Work Department that they should be given money directly to employ their own Personal Assistants, and were operating their own independent living schemes as a pilot. At the same time they (and other people) were inspired by the work of CILs in Hampshire, Derbyshire and abroad, and were determined to set up a similar organisation in Lothian.
In 1991, LCiL became the first organisation of its kind in Scotland, with a basis firmly rooted in the national and international disability movement.