Opening Doors for Work

Advocacy

Advocacy means understanding yourself, knowing what you need, acting on it, and taking responsibility for your actions. It involves knowledge of your personal strengths, needs and rights as a citizen. Learning to advocate takes time! It is a skill that is learned and developed through practice and real life experience. Advocacy includes communicating about issues that are important to you. This can include the use of accommodations and assistive technology.

Becoming a self-advocate requires that you learn about issues that are important to you. Some steps to becoming a self-advocate are:

  1. Knowing your needs and who you are.
    • What is your disability? How does your disability affect how you participate in what you want to do?
    • What are your strengths and challenges?
    • What types of accommodations or modifications do you need to participate in an activity?
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. Be prepared with the information you need.
    • Get the facts for what you are interested in.
    • Know the laws that protect you; your rights and responsibilities.
  4. Make a plan of action - What will you do first, second, to last?
  5. Assert yourself respectfully
    • Practice what you will say.
    • Speak clearly and maintain eye contact.
    • Take your time when talking.
  6. Ask for change.
    • Make clear, specific requests, providing the reason why you need this change
    • Put it in writing (always document your request).
    • If you don't agree with the outcome, decide how you will proceed.

People First (Utah): A self-advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities. It is the leading promoter of self-determination in Utah. For information about meetings near you, visit their website.