Advocacy or standing up for one’s rights is a vital component for persons with disabilities. Advocacy by an individual or by an advocacy group normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Advocacy represents a series of actions taken and issues that are addressed in order to change the “what is” to “what should be.” It includes problem solving to reduce or eliminate the barriers that persons with disabilities may encounter.

Advocacy includes:

  • Knowledge of legal, civil and human rights.
  • Knowledge of grievance procedures and protocols for systems advocacy.
  • Advocating in behalf of persons with disabilities to help resolve conflicts associated with working towards independence.
  • Establishing and expanding the rights and services for persons with disabilities.
  • Informing all individuals and systems of the rights of persons with disabilities and to refer individuals to programs and services that can assist them in advocating for their rights.
  • Teaching persons with disabilities to become more independent by recognizing and developing their own self-advocacy skills.
  • Providing assistance to persons with disabilities in acquiring housing, employment, accessibility and transportation.
  • Assisting persons with disabilities in filling out forms and working through systems to acquire benefits.
  • Recognizing and correcting non-accessible facilities by educating proprietors to ADA standards.
  • Providing instruction and information to consumers, family members, service providers and the community about disability laws.
  • Referring individuals to other organizations in advocating for their rights.
  • Providing assistance to consumer advocacy organizations working towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities.
  • Consulting with community and business groups regarding their responsibilities in compliance with ADA laws and guidelines.
  • Educating and performing outreach services to persons with disabilities in Minnesota’s Region 9 area to increase their ability to advocate for themselves.

Individual Advocacy involves both advocating and teaching self-advocacy skills to persons with disabilities in order to solve problems related to their legal, civil and human rights.

Systems Advocacy involves teaching and supporting organizations in the process of changing and educating the public in the development of policies regarding persons with disabilities.

Citizens for Accessibility (CFA) groups meet on a monthly or bimonthly basis within Region IX to work towards improving accessibility for persons with disabilities by eliminating architectural barriers through education, teamwork and advocacy.
Make a difference in your community and join the SMILES Advocacy Network Tree.

The SMILES Advocacy Network Tree is able to alert you to urgent issues concerning people with disabilities and respond quickly to a need for action. Speaking up on issues is an important part of advocating for yourself and your community. Join the Advocacy Network Tree and speak up on issues such as:

  • Disability rights
  • Legislative changes
  • Funding for programs and services.

Click this link to  sign up for the Advocacy Network Tree.

For more information click Advocacy News , or in Mankato 345-7139,  Fairmont 235-3488,