May 18, 2018

Advocacy and Voting Resources for People with Disabilities

Advocacy and Independent Living

Four people pose in front of a disability rights flag. Three of the people have visible disabilities. As we approach the 2018 midterm elections, disability advocates are continuing their work to make sure that lawmakers and policy influencers know how different issues affect people with disabilities. Advocacy is an important part of the Independent Living and Disability Rights movements, and has been since the beginning.

Individuals with disabilities are the best experts on their wants and needs, and have the right to make their own choices to fulfill those needs. If they are unable to fulfill a want or need, advocacy is the answer. An important part of advocacy, no matter if the goal is to help one person or many, is establishing a confident voice, developed and supported in a community of peer support.

There are many ways to help people with disabilities develop advocacy skills, and one of those is RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit. The Toolkit is a collaboration between BASE, an affiliate of Summit Independent Living in Missoula, MT, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), and RTC:Rural staff, and was developed in response to the needs and interests of CILs and other stakeholders.

Advocacy Toolkit Facilitator Guide coverThe Toolkit is available free of charge by following this link to the Rural Disability Resource Library:

Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit

The toolkit materials, facilitated in a workshop format, give participants the opportunity to explore their voices, build confidence, and display their skills both verbally as well as in written form. The intent is to provide a safe space among peers and trusted facilitators to introduce the concept of both group- and self-advocacy.

The Toolkit includes a facilitator guide, worksheets, and PowerPoint slides to guide facilitators through conducting the workshop. The workshop is designed to be conducted as three 2-hour sessions or modified for different lengths of time as needed.

The Advocacy Toolkit also includes the following How-To Guides, which can be used as stand-alone resources to help individuals and groups advocate in their communities.

How-To Guides:

There are also examples of persuasive writing and personal testimony. Other advocacy-related resources are listed in Appendix C of the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit Facilitator Guide.

Advocacy and Voting Resources

For those who want to use their advocacy skills to comment on a national or state-level issue, here are some resources that may be useful:

#CripTheVote

On May 20, #CripTheVote is having a Twitter chat about “Making Activism Accessible.” Visit their blog post for more information on how to join, to see the questions, and to participate. Even if you don’t use Twitter, there is still a way for you to follow along in real time—click on the following link for more information:

#CripTheVote May 20 Twitter chat: Making Activism Accessible