Speaking up for yourself or someone else.
Advocacy is asking someone who has the power to make change directly and specifically for what you want. Advocacy is especially important for people with disabilities; without advocating, someone else—who may believe they have your best interests in mind—may create a life or environment for you without your consent or input.
In order to encourage people with disabilities to be the decision-makers in their own lives, Ability360, along with all other Centers for Independent Living, promotes and provides three kinds of advocacy:
1. Individual Advocacy
3. Community and Systems Change Advocacy
Individual advocacy is 1:1 support for situations that you may encounter when others do not know—or are unwilling to enforce—your rights as a person with a disability.
Self-advocacy is being able to advocate for yourself and your needs. Ability360 provides a variety of workshops, classes, and programs to help you increase your confidence in being your own advocate.
Community and Systems Change Advocacy
Community and Systems Change Advocacy strives to remove barriers and increase access to the community for all people, including people with disabilities. We believe that systems should be more user-friendly and responsive to our needs.
When Ability360 becomes aware that a problem an individual has is not an individual problem, but a problem for many others, we gather interested parties, who have the same concerns and goals, and develop an advocacy plan to solve the problem.
• Ask the correct person (your State Senator won’t care if a single walk sign never turns on; your city will);
• Be specific about your needs and what you are requesting (or you might get something you don’t want);
• Be concise (value the time of others);
• Advocate with others (there is strength in numbers);
• Write everything down (dates, times, who you spoke with, what information you gave);
• Be patient and persistent (it may take a while to instill and enact community or systems change);
• Keep to the facts (never make anything up, lest you lose credibility; offer to find out and follow up);
• Know that facts are filtered through others’ beliefs, ideologies, and even biases. Provide personal relevance, but understand that you might need to know someone else’s motives in order to make them care about your cause.