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The National Disability Rights Network provide's great information in regards to advocacy and the disability rights movement.
Protection & Advocacy System, Inc. (“P&A”), established in 1977, is a nonprofit corporation authorized by Congress to implement several federal laws to protect the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities. P&A has federal authority to gain access to facilities, records, and persons to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. P&A also helps people obtain state and federally funded services, such as vocational rehabilitation, mental health, intellectual, traumatic brain injury, assistive technology devices and services, other disability services, voting rights, and access to facilities and programs. P&A focuses on civil rights and discrimination issues. P&A promotes systemic change to enhance quality of life for children and adults with disabilities. P&A provides legal representation and individual advocacy, education and training, including help with self-advocacy skills, and information and referral services.
Types of Advocacy
Advocacy involves promoting the interests or cause of someone or a group of people. An advocate is a person who argues for, recommends, or supports a cause or policy. Advocacy is also about helping people find their voice. There are three types of advocacy - self-advocacy, individual advocacy and systems advocacy. WYSAIL is involved in all areas of advocacy for people with disabilities and their families.
Self-advocacy refers to an individual's ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs, and rights (VanReusen et al., 1994).
In individual advocacy a person or group of people concentrate their efforts on just one or two individuals. According to the group Advocacy for Inclusion "Advocacy is having someone to stand beside you if you think something is unfair or that someone is treating you badly and you would like to do something to change it."
There are two common forms of individual advocacy - informal and formal advocacy. When people like parents, friends, family members or agencies speak out and advocate for vulnerable people this is termed informal advocacy. Formal advocacy more frequently involves organizations that pay their staff to advocate for someone or for a group of individuals.
Systems advocacy is about changing policies, laws or rules that impact how someone lives their life. These efforts can be targeted at a local, state, or national agency. The focus can be changing laws, or simply written or unwritten policy. What is targeted depends on the type of problem and who has authority over the problem Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need. Advocates and advocacy providers work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice.