“Being an advocate is about using your voice to make a difference.”
Being an advocate doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, write big checks to politicians or rush to Washington D.C. You don’t need to know everything about disability issues or the law.
Being an advocate simply requires that you use your voice to make a difference. You have an important story to tell and experiences to share.
Even if you have only five minutes per week to spare, here are six ways to how to get started.
- Understand the basic disability issues that are important to you.
- Learn about the laws protecting people with disabilities. There are three primary federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. These laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. There’s no need to go to law school, but you can learn about the disability law on this disability laws link http://freedomrc.org/our-services/disability-laws/)
- Get on the mailing list(s) of advocacy organizations that are important to your issue(s)
- Take action on a pressing issue that is impacting you and other individuals with disabilities
- Talk about what you know – share your personal experience. Sharing your story is the most powerful advocacy tool you can provide to your elected officials, whether they are local, state, or federal officials. Find your representative. United States House of Representatives: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative; United States Senate: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Adapted from Understood for Learning & Attention Issues “Be an Advocate” Training Center https://www.understood.org/en/advocacy/take-action/be-an-advocate-training-center
Another great resource is “Becoming a Disability Advocate, https://www.respectability.org/2017/06/29/becoming-a-disability-advocate/
Disability Laws http://freedomrc.org/our-services/disability-laws/[image description: RespectAbility Fellows and Staff. Two are individuals who use wheelchairs one has a service dog and a number of individuals also are from different races]