That is disability advocacy all about? Which organizations are the key players in the disability rights arena? How can you keep abreast of “hot” legislation and issues, and where can you find up-to-date resources about them? Check these sites for information and resources.
Please note that the following web sites cover a broad range of advocacy issues. Resources for disability culture, news and legislation can be found under related subjects. Web sites that focus on advocacy for specific disabilities, legislation or issues (e.g. Americans with Disabilities Act, children, housing, education, personal care assistants) can be found under their specific topics. Web sites that focus on state or local advocacy can be found in The DRM Regional Resource Directory.
Advocacy Web Sites
The following websites provide information about how to advocate, advocacy issues and advocacy services, as well as information about the organizations that sponsor them.
New in 2001, “the ADA WATCH campaign is a nonprofit informational online network designed to activate the disability community’s grassroots in response to threats to civil rights protections for people with disabilities.” The site features “see this” and “do this” sections that highlight current events in need or watching or action, a link to a great tool for finding local and national media, and an opportunity to receive e-mail Action Alerts about the ADA or IDEA.
ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.
The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization for people with mental illness and mental retardation. Its web site includes current advocacy “alerts” as well as a wealth of advocacy resources relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act, child welfare, children’s mental health services, choices in mental health treatment (advance directive), community services for older people, custody relinquishment to access mental health care, fair housing for people with disabilities, managed behavioral health care, Medicaid, mental health care, outpatient commitment, palliative care advocacy, and SSI for children.
An online guide from the American Foundation for the Blind Governmental Relations staff which takes you step-by-step through defining your issue, identifying the players, planning your strategy, forming alliances, meeting and communicating with legislators or regulators, and following up on your contacts. Must reading for serious advocates.
CCD is “a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations working together to advocate for national public policy that ensures the self determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.” Its web pages highlight legislative issues that concern its members and tasks forces, with related announcements and links.
This straightforward website includes an A.D.A. FAQ (for non-lawyers), “The CDR Guide to Disability Rights (and dealing with the system),” “A Parent’s Guide to Special Ed / Special Needs,” how to take action against structural barriers, voting resources & election information, and more.
DREDF is “a national law and policy center dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities through legislation, litigation, advocacy, technical assistance, and education and training of attorneys, advocates, persons with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities.” Its web site includes legislative alerts and news bulletins as well as information about the organization.
This article by the noted disability writer Joseph P. Shapiro describes the birth and development of the disability advocacy movement. It originally appeared in Modern Maturity and is reproduced on the Polio Survivors’ Page. [Editor’s note: see our web page on the History of Disability for related resources.]
The home page of the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS), an association of federally mandated programs (“P&As” and “CAPs”) that protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The site provides a current listing of state programs as well as information about the organization.