Advocacy

A young man using a wheelchair and communication device talks with a female legislator as his peers watch.

What is Advocacy?

To make a difference in the supports and services that people with disabilities receive in Indiana and beyond, become an effective advocate. Your voice, joined with that of many other people can make a change in the local community, the state, and the country.

There has been much progress since Stone Belt started in the 1950s, thanks to advocacy efforts on everyone’s behalf. Advocating for the rights of people with disabilities means getting active and voicing concerns with legislators who make the laws and determine funding for services.

"Advocacy" can mean many things, but in general, it refers to taking action. Advocacy simply involves speaking and acting on behalf of yourself or others. With your help, we can ensure the brightest future for individuals with disabilities and the people that support them.

Don't worry if you don't know how to get started—Follow our easy guide!

Becoming an Advocate

The people who are elected into public service seek office because they want to make a positive change — just like you. They are concerned with many things and often do not have in-depth knowledge about people with developmental disabilities. Most times though, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, they do care about people with disabilities and want them to get good supports in their home communities. As an advocate, you can help them learn a lot more about what good supports are and how they can assure that people with developmental disabilities receive them.

How can you make a difference?

Share Your Opinions

As a citizen, your opinions help elected officials decide how to vote on issues. Let your elected officials know your opinions through letters, e-mails, phone calls, etc. Remember, they are very busy and you want your message to have as much impact as possible. For the most impact, your communication should be brief, clear and focused on just one issue.

Get Involved

Getting involved with a political party, or political candidate, gives you an inside track on the process. Every political party and candidate has plenty of work that needs to be done. You may be asked to make phone calls, stuff envelopes, hand out literature, staff a booth, work on Election Day, etc. Once you establish yourself as a reliable volunteer, you will have the opportunity to have your point of view listened to, and perhaps, acted upon by your party and your party’s government officials.

Join an Advocacy Group

Joining an advocacy group is one way to increase your awareness to elected officials. You can often be more successful and have more fun working with a group. There are many disability-focused groups to consider joining: a local chapter of The Arc, a family support group, a neighborhood association, etc.

Be an Informed Voter

This is more important than voting! Before you vote, it is essential to seek information on the candidates and their positions. Information is abundant during elections. Much information is available from political parties and candidates themselves. While this information is helpful, it is also important to get information from other sources, such as newspapers, web sites, public debates, advocacy groups you are interested in, etc.

Write Letters to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor is an effective way to publicly discuss an issue and influence the decisions of local officials. Every newspaper has different requirements for letters to the editor. In general, as with letters to elected officials, it is important to be brief, clear, and concise and focus on just one issue.

Register and Vote

This is critical! Voting is your most effective tool for local government involvement. By voting and supporting your chosen candidate, you send a message about the kind of government you want. To vote, a citizen must be registered. Registration to vote ends 29 days before each election. To register you must be 18 years old on the day of the election and you must be a citizen of the United States. You can register at your local city clerk’s office, license branch, and many other government offices.

Attend Public Meetings

Meetings of the city council, county council, Indiana General Assembly, school board, etc., are open to the public. Attending these meetings helps keep you informed of the way public business is transacted and how the various elected officials interact. In addition, public meetings give citizens a good opportunity to give their opinions by speaking during the public feedback section of the meetings. Nearly all elected officials host public meetings. They are at schools, libraries, churches, etc. This is your opportunity to hear from your elected official what they are working on and to give your input on issues.

Sign Up

To stay informed on issues and news that affects people with developmental disabilities, join our advocacy mailing list below.

Join Our Advocacy Team

If you want to make a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities by advocating for their rights at the local, state, and federal levels of government, join our advocacy mailing list for updates, news and calls to action.
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Stone Belt Arc is the local chapter of The Arc in Monroe County. The Arc is committed to all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities realizing their goals of living, learning, working and fully participating in the community. The combined strength of local Arcs, The Arc of Indiana and The Arc of the United States makes The Arc the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Learn more about The Arc by visiting www.arcind.org and www.thearc.org.

Copyright © Stone Belt Arc 2019. All Rights Reserved.

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