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Advocacy & Self-Advocacy (also see inclusion)

Featured Resource: Wrightslaw

Parents, advocates, educators, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for information about special education law and advocacy for children with disabilities. You will find articles, cases, newsletters, and resources about dozens of topics.

Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) Seeks Board/Task Force Applicants - Calling All Youth with Disabilities! Are you interested in getting involved with the national disability youth movement? Are you between the ages of 12 and 24? Are you interested in learning how to inform youth about their rights, give peer-support, training and to change systems to include youth? If you answered "YES" to these questions, Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) wants YOU! National Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) has positions open on our Advisory Board and Task Force. We are looking for youth with disabilities, between the ages of 12 and 24, to serve on the national KASA Advisory Board or our national Task Force.

10 Tips for Good Advocates - Wrightslaw's Pat Howey says parents need to understand that the law gives them power to use in educational decisions for their children. Parents should not be afraid to use their power. But, there are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through IEP meetings in a Mack Truck. Here are Pat's newest tips for effective, successful advocates.


Improving Schools: One Person is a Fruitcake, 50 People are a Powerful Organization

If you think that you alone cannot do much to improve your school, you are probably right. You're more likely to get what you want for your child if you work with other parents. If you are in a school that is not parent-friendly, this is how you might be perceived.

1 person = A fruitcake
2 people = A fruitcake and a friend
3 people = Troublemakers
5 people = "Let's have a meeting"
10 people = "We'd better listen"
25 people = "Our dear friends"
50 people = A powerful organization"

If you collaborate with other parents and organizations, you can make a difference. There is strength and power in numbers.

Source: 12 Things Parents (and Teachers) Need to Know About and Expect From Your Schools - and Yourself. Originally from Parent Leadership Associates; reprinted from


Mistakes People Make: Advocates - Because the non-lawyer advocate plays an extremely important role in the special education process, advocates must be mindful of the power of their role and the trust parents place in them. The more serious mistakes advocates may make are generally ones of excess.

Learning Self-Advocacy Skills - What's the most important skill a high school student with Asperger Syndrome or autism can learn before he or she graduates? Run a list of candidate skills through your head. It's a good exercise. Was self-advocacy on your short list? I think I can make a good case that it should be.

Advocating Through Letter Writing (PDF) - A request for a meeting with a teacher, a change in your child’s program, an adjustment to your child’s testing schedules, all may require a letter. And not all of us are comfortable writing a letter for these requests. It can be intimidating and time consuming. In the following few pages you will find some hints, suggestions or models to use when you re writing your next letter. We hope this booklet helps you to feel confident and to improve your letter writing skills.

How to be an Effective Advocate for Quality Schools (PDF) - Whether it is through education funding, accountability, or teacher quality regulations, education policy affects our schools and students. For too long, these policies have been developed without full consideration of their effect in the classroom. ASCD is working to change that by helping educators engage in effective advocacy. The resources in this guide and in the ASCD Action allow you to take action to support effective education policy. This guide offers advice for planning an advocacy campaign, communicating with policymakers, making your voice heard, and ensuring your advocacy is effective and efficient. Using ASCD materials and the tactics in this guide, you can make the most of your time as an advocate. Even if you have only two minutes to spare, these tried-and-true approaches will make sure you are respected and effective as a go-to source for education policy.

A Citizen’s Guide to Michigan State Government (PDF) - Find names and contact information for all Michigan Senators and Representatives, an explanation of how Michigan state government works, and tips on how to write letters to elected officials.


"I am a parent of a child with a disability, and a graduate of Partners in Policymaking from Temple Univ. in PA. I am announcing my new on-line disability rights store I am also founder of Kids Together, Inc at, an all volunteer non-profit promoting inclusive communities." - Colleen Tomko


A listing of professionals all over the country offering advocacy services, legal and otherwise, for special education. There are also categories on assessments, therapy, and ADD among others - click here.


One of Our Own - On Tuesday we had the pleasure of attending an awards benefit in Morgantown, West Virginia. The banquet, the 2004 Governor’s Service Award Banquet, was hosted by West Virginia Governor, Bob Wise. We attended the banquet because Our Children Left Behind’s own Debi Lewis was honored with an award. We are so proud of her.


Every Child Matters Website


Self-Determination/Self-Advocacy Guides from (PDF format)

Inclusion, Advocacy & Self-Determination Websites

Helpful Resources for Writing a Press Release (Compiled by Shari Krishnan; there are also excellent books on the topic at many local bookstores):

KASA: Kids As Self Advocates - KASA is a national, grassroots network of youth with special needs and our friends, speaking on behalf of ourselves. We are leaders in our communities, and we help spread helpful, positive information among our peers to increase knowledge around various issues. Those issues include: living with special health care needs, health care transition issues, education, employment, and many more. We also help health care professionals, policymakers and other adults in our communities understand what it’s like to live with special health care needs and we participate in discussions about how to help each other succeed.  


Meet with Your Congressional Representatives During Their October Recess - How to Advocate with Your Congressional Representatives Without Traveling to Washington: You can and should look for opportunities to let your Members of Congress know that you and other families living with special needs or issues are their constituents and would like them to be responsive to your needs.  Members of Congress will be in the district for a few days leading up to the Columbus Day holiday, and this is a great time for them to hear from you! This document provides a quick tutorial on how to do that where you live. Click here to continue.

Online guide to Robert's Rules of Order - click here.


Partners in Policymaking - Advocacy information and online courses on employment readiness and how to talk to legislators.  Partners in Policymaking was created in Minnesota by the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities in 1987. Partners is an innovative, competency based leadership training program for adults with developmental disabilities and parents of young children with disabilities.  The purpose of the program is twofold: To teach best practices in disability, and to teach the competencies of influencing and communication.  Since 1987, Partners programs have been implemented in 46 states funded by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. Thousands of Partners graduates are part of a growing national network of community leaders serving on policy making committees, commissions, and boards at local, state, and national levels.


Legislative Strategies for Everyday People (PDF) - The Finance Project is pleased to announce a new publication expanding our body of work on financing education, family and children's services, community building and development. This brief addresses strategies to ensure that policy makers hear the voices of children and families so that effective early childhood initiatives can be enacted, implemented and sustained. It helps readers understand how they can influence the basic legislative processes of creating statutes, resolutions, budgets and appropriations and when to use alternatives to legislation. It includes examples and lessons learned from efforts across the county to support early childhood and other child and family initiatives in good times as well as bad. And it provides key guidelines and advice for everyday people-including parents, teachers and other service providers, members of business, religious and community groups and many others-for educating and working with policy makers to support initiatives that promote the well-being of young children and their families.

What Does it Take to be an Effective Advocate? by Lisa Simmons - Most advocates become advocates not because they feel they have natural talents that would make them a good advocate, but because they are "drafted".  When your child, your student, or someone you care about is not being treated fairly you simply can't look the other way -- SOMEONE has to be their voice.


Get Rid of Junk Food in Your Kid's School - Download a free, online guide describing how parents can get rid of junk food in schools.


bridges4kids Exclusive: Special Ed Vote Impacts Statewide School Board Elections - A Bridges4Kids Analysis by Deborah Canja

One-Click Activism - It's a would-be activist's dream come true: Someone with kindred values monitors Congress and alerts you to significant votes. Better still, they draft a letter to your congressional delegation and ask if you'd like it faxed right away.

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