Self-advocacy is when you use your voice to let others – especially decision makers – know what’s important to you. When you self-advocate, you work to influence decisions that will affect your life, instead of having other people make decisions without your input.
1. Prioritize Your Goals
What are your self-advocacy goals? Your answers to this question will help you decide your next steps.
2. Know Your Rights
It is your right to understand the laws that determine your rights. You also have the right to receive information in your primary language and in alternative formats.
3. Keep Records
It is vital that you keep accurate records. Be sure to keep important documents in one safe place.
4. Prepare and Plan
Before a meeting, reflect on your goals, review your documents, and talk with people you trust to help you prepare.
5. Be Creative and Assertive
Make sure you keep your discussion short and to the point. Share when you disagree and collaborate to find the best solution for you.
6. Get Decisions in Writing
Keep track of your progress through documentation. If you disagree with a decision, ask for it in writing.
7. Right to Appeal
If you do not get a decision that you agree with, you have the right to challenge it.
8. Interim Solutions
While you wait for a decision to be made on your case, consider other options by exploring what resources are available to help you in the meantime.
9. Review Documents
Review all agreements and action items to ensure
everyone involved is on the same page, and sign only what you agree to.
10. Follow Up
Stay on top of any final deadlines and communications. Remember to thank those who have helped you in this process.
For more information about these tips, see our 10 Self-Advocacy Tips handout.
This information is based on Disability Rights Florida’s 10 Steps to Effective Self-Advocacy.