Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit – Rural RTC

Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit

Source: Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit – RTC:Rural

This toolkit is a guide for Centers for Independent Living and others to conduct interactive and engaging workshops to facilitate the development of advocacy skills of emerging Independent Living leaders and youth with disabilities. It describes how to introduce advocacy through the facilitation of unique activities and discussions, identifying issues of importance, and putting advocacy skills into practice. A unique approach presented in this toolkit is the use of improv to introduce, invite, and engage others into and with the world of advocacy.

Using improv hones communication and public speaking skills, stimulates fast thinking, and encourages engagement with ideas, all skills that are important for effective advocacy. Improv also provides a supportive environment that allows participants to take risks, try out new ideas, and build their confidence. The activities incorporate different learning styles, and can easily be modified to accommodate everyone.

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 by a community of peer support. This workshop and accompanying toolkit materials 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.

MU medical students’ complaints describe humiliation, discrimination | Higher Education |

MU medical students’ complaints describe humiliation, discrimination

Source: MU medical students’ complaints describe humiliation, discrimination | Higher Education |

COLUMBIA — Matt Darrough didn’t take a traditional path to the MU School of Medicine.

When he applied in November 2013, he was 43 and working full time as a lawyer. He was also preparing to have his legs amputated below the knee and get prosthetics. An accident years earlier had left him paralyzed from the knees down.

Darrough was worried that his age and disability would make medical school more difficult, but in his interview, the chief of surgery said he was exactly the type of student the school was seeking. The admissions committee wanted greater diversity, including students like Darrough with no background in science.

Three years later, Darrough dropped out, frustrated with what he described as constant bullying, a lack of accommodation of his disability and an overall hostile environment.

He filed a complaint — one of 15 filed by students against the medical school in the past two years, according to documents requested by the Missourian in September and obtained Dec. 8 through a Sunshine Law request. Most of the complaints involved public humiliation, and others described experiences of gender discrimination.

The Missourian obtained medical students’ reports of mistreatment from September 2014 to present through a Sunshine Law request. The following are selections of students’ narratives.

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Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Self-Advocates

The Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Self-Advocates was put together by the Autism Self Advocacy Network ( ASAN) to “equip self-advocates to participate in important conversations about our lives and the services we rely on.”

Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Self-Advocates

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made it easier to get health insurance for all Americans, including people with disabilities. But a lot of the information out there about the ACA and attempts to repeal it can be difficult to understand and navigate. That’s why the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) released a plain language Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Self-Advocates, part of which was funded by the Special Hope Foundation.

An Ordinary, Extraordinary Day

OFCCP Director Blogs About Updated Veteran/People with a Disability Regulations

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Karla wrote for her daughter, a high school student with cerebral palsy who, her mom points out, “will be as qualified as anyone else” when she enters the workforce. Gerald wrote to make sure we didn’t forget the continuing barriers Vietnam veterans like him still face when trying to enter or re-enter the workforce. And Mike wrote just to say thank you – for helping people “to live improved lives by having a job.”

For millions of workers around the nation, March 24 was just another Monday, the first day of another week of work. But at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, March 24 was a special day: the day our rules expanding employment opportunities for qualified workers with disabilities and protected groups of veterans went into effect.

For my staff; for Karla, Gerald and Mike; for the hundreds of people who wrote to us supporting our proposals during the rulemaking process; and for thousands of people like them, March 24 was a day of new opportunities. In fact, leaders from the National Organization on Disability and the Easter Seals have suggested that March 24, 2014, will join the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and even Veteran’s Day as another major milestone in our nation’s journey of expanding rights for veterans and people with disabilities.

These two rules are game-changers. But change is a process, not a switch. That’s true for the contractor community, and it’s true for all of us. Thousands of people have already participated in OFCCP webinars on the new rules, and more training will be coming over the next three months.

At OFCCP, we are committed to getting this right. We know it’s important to be flexible, open and inclusive; to be good enforcers as well as good listeners. We also know that diverse workplaces are better workplaces. They are safer and fairer; they are more productive and, yes, more profitable.

Our job is to protect workers, promote diversity and enforce the law. In doing so, we facilitate the success of businesses, workers and the federal agencies that rely on contracted work. That’s good government and good business sense working together for the good of the country we serve.

Patricia A. Shiu is the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Impact: Feature Issue on Supporting Wellness for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Advocating for herself, others with disabilities
Christy Levy September 8, 2015

Self-advocacy specialist Tia Nelis at the steps of her portrait on the stairs of the National Museum of American History, on display in July.
Tia Nelis has spent more than two decades advocating for herself. In the process, she’s spoken up for many others.
Nelis wasn’t completely sure what self-advocacy meant when she helped start the movement in Illinois more than two decades ago. But her passion for finding her own voice and helping others with disabilities do the same has received national attention.
For the Google Impact Challenge celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Nelis was among 10 disability rights leaders whose portraits were displayed on the stairs of national monuments in Washington, D.C., July 24 to 27.
Her portrait was painted on the stairs of the National Museum of American History, along with her quote:
“We want the community to see us as friends, co-workers and neighbors instead of clients and patients, and to get rid of all those labels that hurt people.” 
“It was pretty great,” said Nelis, a self-advocacy specialist in the Institute on Disability and Human Development and the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health.
“It’s wonderful that people are celebrating the law but sometimes after the hype goes away, so does the talk about it. We can’t let that happen. We need to teach people why it makes a difference in people’s lives.”
A growing wish-list
Nelis first heard of self-advocacy when leaders from the movement in Nebraska and Canada spoke to her high school class at Naperville North. She and four classmates were recruited to help found People First of Illinois, the state’s first nonprofit agency to teach people with disabilities how to advocate for themselves.
“When we decided to join, it was just about stuff — the people from Nebraska and Canada had jackets and shirts that we liked,” Nelis said. “We look back and our wish lists were things like answering machines, pencils — that was what was important to us.
“So much has changed. Now our wish list has things like employment benefits.”
Speaking up was daunting at first, but Nelis quickly learned the value of conquering her fears.
“At first, we thought that giving speeches for five minutes and saying our names was a nightmare,” she said. “We had learned that you respect authority and don’t talk back. But self-advocacy really works when you’re given the opportunity to make choices, to speak up, to say your opinion.”
Speaking up felt so good that she wanted to help others find their voice.
“We started learning about how some people weren’t allowed to make choices,” she said. “Some people lived in institutions and didn’t have any choices.
“The greatest part of my job is when I get to help someone else do those things — when someone else speaks out for the first time and you know that you had a part in making that happen. You have to believe in yourself before you can learn to advocate for anyone else.”
Her involvement in the self-advocacy movement began about 25 years ago, just as support for disability rights was gaining ground after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed on July 26, 1990.
“When we first started the movement, there weren’t many role models for people with intellectual disabilities,” she said. “The law was a lot about physical disabilities.”
Nelis worked with faculty in the Institute on Disability and Human Development to create presentations for people with intellectual disabilities that explain the ADA through pictures and stories.
An intellectual disability is characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior that affect social and life skills, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“For people with intellectual disabilities, if you get a document with a lot of big language, it’s not going to be read,” Nelis said.
“If I don’t know how it’s going to help my life and my friend’s life and I don’t have support to help me understand it, it’s not going to be read or touched.”
Speaking out on a national stage
Nelis continues her self-advocacy on a national level as president of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, a nonprofit funded by grants. “We fly by the seat of our pants,” she said.
She trains other self-advocacy leaders, speaks at disability rights events and works to create more opportunities for people with disabilities on behalf of the national nonprofit.
“We are working on marriage — people who have disabilities can’t get married or they will lose their benefits,” she said. “Another project we’re working on is around sexuality and relationships. People with disabilities learn how to be safe and protect themselves but they also need to learn about the good parts of relationships — marriage, partners.”
Nelis, who joined UIC 23 years ago, participates in self-advocacy programs and training throughout the state and often speaks to UIC students about the importance of the movement.
“I’m pretty lucky because when I started here, we were able to design my job around my self-advocacy work,” she said.
She’s a coordinator for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, which brings together people with disabilities, faculty members, educators, therapists, physicians, parents and others to talk about their roles in each other’s lives.
“We support each other,” Nelis said. “And we can learn about everybody’s career and then educate people about what we learned.”
Her self-advocacy wish list today includes structural money for self-advocacy groups and better employment, housing and transportation for people with disabilities.
“Transportation is a barrier for people with disabilities — some people can’t pay for it and then you need to have great friends who support you,” said Nelis, who lives with a roommate in Elmhurst and uses public transportation.
“People need to be able to have their own places to live, and live with whoever they want, with the support they need.”
She hopes the self-advocacy movement will continue to gain momentum.
“There are still a lot of people out there with disabilities that don’t know about self-advocacy,” she said. “Self-advocacy is a movement, not a program. It’s about people’s lives.”
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Guidelines for Dementia-Related Health Advocacy for Adults With Intellectual Disability and Dementia: National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Kathleen M. Bishop, Mary Hogan, Matthew P. Janicki, Seth M. Keller, Ronald Lucchino, Dawna T. Mughal, Elizabeth A. Perkins, Baldev K. Singh, Kathy Service, Sarah Wolfson, and the Health Planning Work Group of the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices (2015)

Guidelines for Dementia-Related Health Advocacy for Adults With Intellectual Disability and Dementia: National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, February 2015, Vol. 53, No. 1, pp. 2-29. doi: