At the core of our advocacy is “empowerment” of people with disabilities to take action, get involved and make a difference in their world.
We work with people to ensure that they know and understand their rights: the right to a sign language interpreter at public meetings; to a barrier-free community; to an education in an inclusive classroom; to a competitive integrated job; to services in the most integrated setting; to vote independently and privately; and so much more. We also assist people to learn how to advocate for themselves. Additionally, we do Systems Advocacy; working to make changes to local, state and federal laws and policies that affect the lives of individuals with disabilities.
A primary goal of independent living is learning how to advocate for oneself. Peer counselors, service coordinators, and others from STIC can teach self-advocacy and self-help skills, assist individuals with follow-up contacts, attend meetings and appointments, etc. The goal is to learn how to advocate for the issues of most importance to an individual and that affect him / her daily. This could mean advocating to have an interpreter for an appointment, advocating to move a meeting to an accessible site so an individual can attend it, and other concerns that may affect one or two people but not necessarily people in general. It is often a one-time effort to resolve a one-time problem.
As people with disabilities learn how to advocate for themselves, they are often so empowered by the experience that they grow to become systems advocates in their own right.
Systems advocacy seeks to change things more generally or broadly, such as laws, regulations, policies, procedures and/or practices. It could be on a local level, or statewide or nationally and may be working through government, agencies or other venues.
STIC’s Systemic Advocacy is organized around specific disability issues such as civil rights, education, employment, health care, accessibility, housing, transportation, and community services. Several Systems Advocacy Committees meet monthly and consumers and community members are welcome to join us. Systems advocates help to develop strategies for affecting the issue at hand, and then implementing their plan by making calls to legislators and policy makers, sending emails, writing letters, attending meetings or rallies, and/or testifying at public hearings. Every call or letter makes a difference and no task is too small to matter.
Advocacy at STIC is a way to put our independent living mission and visions into actions that will help our community. Contact us to see how you can be a part of the action!
Sue Ruff, Systems Advocate
Phone: (607) 724-2111 or toll free at (877) 722-9150 (Voice and TTY)