Learn how to advocate for yourself and have your voice heard while acting for change that offers equal opportunity for people with disabilities. We can help you contact your government officials, write letters or make phone calls, travel to Montgomery for special events, or just figure out how to stand up for your rights in your own life.
Disability Rights & Resources’ goal is to raise public awareness about issues that prevent everyone from fully participating in and around their home community. We strive to bring these issues to policy & law makers so that they can effectively change & reform their policies, attitudes and the public opinion to better serve individuals with disabilities. We want to ensure that everyone is effectively implementing and enforcing these policies.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is saying what we need in order to achieve independence in our goals. There are three types of advocacy – self, group, & systems advocacy.
- Self-Advocacy: Standing up for yourself so you can get what you want/need. It is educating yourself about what you need, want & deserve. It means setting a goal & working through the steps to make it happen, and working through the barriers that make reaching your goal hard.
- Group Advocacy: Very similar to self-advocacy, but you belong to a group that needs something as a whole. An example would be a group of people living with limb loss advocating for changes in regulations on affordable prosthetic supplies. Another example would be a group of individuals that are wheelchair uses advocating for a ramp at a local community park or asking for more accessible avenues of transportation in the community.
- Systems Advocacy: Making an effort to change policies or laws that determine how services are provided.
The THREE MAIN areas to focus on in policy change are:
- Creating the policy when it does not exist
- Refining ineffective policies
- Ensuring good policies are being followed, implemented & enforced
Advocacy must take place in a particular context and be aimed at a particular target to be the most successful. It will help to use information strategically in a political environment so as to the maximize influence on the institutions or individuals that are responsible for making, deciding and implementing policy.
Advocacy is all about:
- Representation: speaking on behalf of others
- Mobilization: encouraging others to speak with you
- Empowerment: supporting others to speak for themselves
What can I do?
Speak up for your needs and wants!
Get involved in your community!
Contact your Alabama legislator -Send your message now & make your voice heard! You can get the home office contact information by clicking on the District/Biography tab.
Writing your Legislator – If you are having a hard time starting that email, card or letter to your Alabama state Senator or Representative, you could start by saying:
- I have end stage renal disease and I live in your district.
- I am a person with a disability and I live in your district.
- I am the husband/wife of a person with a disability and I live in your district.
- I am the parent of a child with a disability and I live in your district.
And then follow with something like:
- Cuts to Medicaid services will affect me because I will not be able to receive treatment at the dialysis center any longer.
- Cuts to Medicaid services will affect me because I receive home and community based waiver services that will be cut.
- Cuts to Medicaid services will affect me because funding to Children’s hospital will affect outpatient services.
- Cuts to Medicaid services will affect me because it will be more difficult to find a doctor who accepts Medicaid.
Close with your name and address so they KNOW you really are from their district.
Other Advocacy Links to check out:
ADAPT-ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.
Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP)– ADAP’s mission is to provide quality, legally based advocacy services to Alabamians with disabilities in order to protect, promote and expand their rights. ADAP’s vision is one of a society where persons with disabilities are valued and exercise self-determination through meaningful choices, and have equality of opportunity.
Alabama Council for Developmental Disabilities (ACDD)-To promote and support independence, advocacy, productivity and inclusion for Alabamians with developmental disabilities.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.
People First of Alabama-People First of Alabama is a group of people with developmental disabilities living in Alabama communities dedicated to making our dreams happen by having choices and control over our lives. This means having opportunities to make decisions and plans for ourselves instead of having others make them for us.
On Allyship Chris Adams and Nicky Watkins, of Disability Rights & Resources, collaborated together to produce this piece on allyship and what behaving as a good ally to the disability community looks like in practice.