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Disability Action Center NW

Individual & Community Advocacy

Individual & Community Advocacy

Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say – Rosemary Crossley

You can advocate to remove barriers in your community! DAC Staff provides assistance to individuals with disabilities in resolving issues related to obtaining access to benefits, services and programs. We also provide civil rights education, leadership training and networking between businesses and disability groups. If you encounter a problem related to disability, we can provide you with the tools to resolve it.

1.Think about what you want to be different. Before you talk to the other person, make sure you know what you want to happen. Do you want to be treated differently? Do you want that person to stop doing something? Do you want a barrier removed?

2Take a deep breath and speak clearly and slowly. Deep breathing gives your body lots of oxygen, and oxygen helps you feel calmer and think more clearly. Start by saying something like, “I would like to talk with you about…” and then calmly describe how you see the situation.

3. Do your research. Take the time to gather background information. Who is affected? How does this issue divide segments of the community? Find specific solutions to offer, as it shows you took the time to consider all sides of the issue.

4. Let the other person speak. Being a self-advocate doesn’t mean that only you talk. The other person needs a chance to respond to what you are saying. If that person becomes impatient, try to stay calm and take a deep breath.

5Don’t expect immediate results. Change is not always instant or lasting. Sometimes it takes many conversations before anything changes. You may even have to remind the person more than once.

6Ask for help.  One of the best parts of being your own advocate is that you don’t have to solve all the problems on your own. You can and should ask for help. Asking for help is also advocating for yourself. Find a like minded group of people. By organizing and working together it’s easier to make change.

Determine if your issue is a local, state or national one. Contact your representatives for help.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. 

This is a great way to engage with a topic you’re passionate about and to influence public opinion. Your letter to the editor can be a response to an event or issue in your community.

Most papers will have guidelines for the types of letters they will publish and rules regarding the letter’s length. And how often individuals can submit. They also typically ask that you include your name and contact information for verification. Make sure to read these guidelines before you send off your work.

Give your letter more force by focusing on one issue and providing evidence for that issue. Be brief and state you position up front. If your letter is edited, it will likely be cut from the bottom up. Use a personal example. It will have more impact on the readers.

Print our Advocacy brochure.