Self advocacy is a critical approach for creating change within individual lives and society. It is the developed ability of individuals living with disabilities and their family members to speak about the range of challenges they may be facing – from the need for specific resources to broader societal barriers. Self advocacy can bring awareness to circumstances that might have been overlooked and it can influence others to help create positive change.
As a self advocate, you can influence people, agencies, policies and overall societal views by speaking out for yourself and for others who are affected by disability. This can give you a greater sense of control over your life, which might have been devalued, and more personal strength and confidence. And, it can help empower others to make changes within society.
Several organizations have developed toolkits to help you learn how to advocate for yourself:
- Muscular Dystrophy Canada – steps and suggested activities for people to build self- advocacy skills
- Nova Scotia Association for Community Living - an advocacy guide intended to assist families, self-advocates and their friends and supporters
- The Self Help Alliance provides an overview of what self advocacy is, your rights by province and effective ways of lodging complaints