Self-Advocacy is a powerful tool when used correctly. It can make preferences known. It can improve the quality of life. And for people with disabilities, it can help bring about lasting, positive change in society. All of this is why Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board, or Summit DD, made it a priority to go beyond simply promoting self-advocacy and created resources that others can use to teach or practice self-advocacy for themselves!
Person-centered planning and self-advocacy are at the heart of Summit DD’s core values. Unfortunately, finding local resources geared toward self-advocacy proved difficult. Summit DD created an internal team to look into how we might fill that gap.
The goal was to develop a curriculum which could teach the principles of self-advocacy: the basics, effective communication, handling disagreements, problem solving, and more. These tools could then enable individuals with developmental disabilities to learn the practice of self-advocacy, or even be used to help train private providers throughout Summit County.
“Self-advocacy is crucial to the future direction of services and supports for people with developmental disabilities,” Summit DD Center-Based Services Director, Jean Fish explained. “Self-advocacy skills are the foundation that will enable individuals to let others know how to support them in the creation of their own good life. So we put a team together to figure out how to accomplish that.”
The team was made up of self-advocates with disabilities, private service providers in Summit County, and Summit DD staff members.
The diverse team created an outline for the curriculum based on self-advocacy needs they identified. They then broke it down into topics that could help citizens with disabilities hone their self-advocacy skills. Printable PDF sessions for each topic were created as guides. These were useful tools, but more than that, it was imperative to the group that people hear advocates tell their stories in their own words. As a result, self-advocacy videos were created to accompany the sessions. These companion videos help illustrate the principles of self-advocacy discussed in the sessions.
“The team was clear in its desire to design the information around local topics, such as SSAs and ISPs, in addition to the broader self-advocacy topics,” said Joe DiFranco, Summit DD Habilitation Manager. “The group wanted information that can help people locally.”
Are you or a loved one interested in learning more about self-advocacy? Check out these resources for yourself or share them with a friend! Visit SummitDD.org/Self-Advocacy.