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Disability Access: SELF ADVOCACY

What is Self Advocacy?

Self-advocacy refers to an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs, and rights.  It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions. (VanReusen et al., 1994)

The self-advocacy movement seeks to reduce the isolation of people with disabilities and give them the tools and experience to take greater control over their own lives.  It is in basic terms about people speaking up for themselves. By self-advocating you are providing yourself with not only the opportunity to resolve your issue, but to learn more about service providers, about other people, and most importantly about yourself. 

TIPS for Self Advocacy

Tips for Self-Advocacy

•          Know and understand your rights and responsibilities
•          Learn all you can about your disability, needs, strengths, and weaknesses
•          Know what accommodations you need as well as why you need them
•          Know how to effectively/assertively communicate your needs and preferences
•          Find out who the key people are and how to contact them if necessary
•          Be willing to ask questions when something is unclear or you need clarification

Why is advocacy important?

Why is Advocacy important?

Advocacy is important because you are important. Despite society's progress in the way it supports people with a disability, there is still a lot of unfairness, exclusion and general misunderstanding within the community. In many instances, people with a disability still do not have access to various buildings, services and community associations; which can be due to any number of reasons.

No matter what the issue is or what reason you are given for it not being what you want, you always have the right to ask why that is and what can be done about it. Advocacy is important because it is a way for you to access what you are entitled to within the community and have your rights as an individual upheld the same as everyone else’s.  Here are some great reasons to advocate.

*Advocacy can change community attitudes and misconceptions;
*Advocacy can help make service providers and organizations accountable ensuring there is
  transparency in their actions and decisions;
*Advocacy can help you have control over your situation;
*Advocacy makes sure that there is recognition of the rights of people with a disability.
*It can also promote positive change to the structure and policy of organizations, which will
   be of benefit to people with a disability.

Self Awareness

Self-knowledge/awareness is the first step towards advocating for your rights.  You need to know your strengths, needs, and interests before you can begin to advocate.