YDAS delivered several online and in-person self-advocacy workshops in 2021. But we know that some people may not have been able to attend those workshops. That's why we've made this resource with the information from the workshops for you to read.

We'll start by thinking about what advocacy means.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is acting, speaking or writing to promote, protect and defend the rights of a person or group of people. Advocates can advocate for themselves, another person, or a group of people with disability. Advocates may be paid or volunteer their time for free.

A young wheelchair user speaking into a microphone

Image credit: Disabled And Here

What is self-advocacy?

Self-advocacy is when people speak up and advocate for themselves.

There are lots of ways that we do self-advocacy!

You can speak up or self-advocate in lots of different places, such as:

  • Work
  • School
  • With your family and friends
  • Hospital

One of the activities we did in the workshop was to come up with all the ways we already self-advocate or speak up for ourselves. You can do this on your own as well. You can set a timer on your phone or other device for 5 minutes and write down as many examples as you can think of.

Some examples we heard in the workshop to get you started are:

  • Choosing what movie you will watch with your family

  • Choosing what you will eat when you go out to a restaurant (or get food delivered)

  • Explaining how you are feeling when you go to the doctor

  • Asking for support at school, such as extra time to finish a test

  • Asking for support at work, such as lots of breaks so you can stretch your body

How many examples did you come up with?

Guess what? You already know how to self-advocate! All of your examples are proof that you can do this. We are just here to give you some extra information!

What does self-care have to do with advocacy?

Self-care means anything that we do to make sure that we are healthy and happy.  Speaking up for ourselves or other people can take up a lot of energy.

That’s why when we are advocating for ourselves or someone else it is important to also make time for self-care.

Here are some examples of what you could do for self-care:

  • Talk to a friend or family member about how you are feeling

  • Watch your favourite movie or TV show

  • Spend some time outside or bring the outside to you by getting some houseplants

Illustration of self care activities like going for a walk, reading and drawing

Why is self-advocacy important for disabled young people?

  • If we don’t have our rights or needs met, we need to advocate for them.
  • Sometimes, groups of people, such as disabled young people, systemically (TOOLTIP) will have their rights and needs denied (tooltip), so self-advocacy is very important for them.
  • Self-advocacy can be for things that are big, or things that are small.

How do we advocate?

There are many different ways that we can speak up and tell people what we need. Everyone will have a way that they like to speak up, and that's okay.

Look at the following list and choose your favourite way of speaking up.

  • Reading, Writing, Typing. For example, blogs, letters, emails, texts, and articles.
  • Talking, Speaking, Voice. For example, speeches, phone calls, and voice recordings.

  • Physical, Body, Hands, Face. For example, Auslan, acting, and dancing.

  • Devices, Aids, Interpreters. For example, speech-to-text, text-to-speech, flash cards or apps.

  • Images, Pictures. For example: emojis.

How do we use what we have learned?

In the workshops, we did an activity where everyone picked their favourite animal. They then had to explain to everyone else why their favourite animal was the best animal.

You can give this a try at home.

Why is your favourite animal the best?

Pick your favourite communication type and use it to explain why your favourite animal is the best!

A South Asian person in her wheelchair takes notes by hand during a meeting.

Image credit: Disabled And Here

What did we cover in this blog?

  • What advocacy is.
  • How we are all already doing self-advocacy.
  • How important self-care is in advocacy.
  • Why self-advocacy is important for disabled young people.
  • Why we need to advocate.
  • The kinds of communication we can use to advocate.
  • And that you are an amazing advocate already!

Want to know more?

Follow YDAS on social media to get involved with our work.