Self-awareness is generally the first step in self-advocacy. As you become an adult and seek independence, it is important to determine what is important to you. You can begin by determining what it is you need, speaking up for yourself and learning how to describe your needs and wants.
Know your rights. There are laws and regulations to provide guidance and clarification about what must be provided to you. A number of federal laws address accessibility and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. These laws cover access to a wide range of facilities and services, including housing, transportation, employment, telecommunications and voting. Knowing your rights under the laws, or complying with their requirements, means getting the right information from the proper source. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at navigating this process!
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta continues to be involved in advocating for families and individuals with disabilities. There is always representation of disability issues in their lobbying efforts.
There are a few places in Georgia that can help you with this.
- Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is the state's leader in advancing public policy on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities
- Georgia Advocacy Office’s mission is to work with and for oppressed and vulnerable individuals in Georgia who are labeled as disabled or mentally ill to secure their protection and advocate on thier behalf. GAO’s work is mandated by Congress, and GAO has been designated by Georgia as the agency to implement Protection and Advocacy within the state.
- All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) an organization that provides individuals with disabilities and their families opportunities to live independently, has a training program called Partners in Policymaking
- ChildKind serves children from 0-18 and have dedicated themselves to the idea that all children with medical needs and other disabilities have the right to live to their fullest potential
- Georgia State University’s Center for Leadership in Disability offers advocacy and leadership training
- Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership is an alliance of parents and professionals working together to improve outcomes for students with disabilities by enhancing communication and collaboration between families, educators and the community
In Georgia, Centers for Independent Living (CIL), which are part of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia (SILCGA), provide individual advocacy and systems advocacy. You can find out more by contacting the center nearest to you.