What is Self-Advocacy?
Test, Fowler, Wood, Brewer, and Eddy (2005), developed a conceptual framework of self-advocacy based on four components:
Knowledge of self
Knowledge of rights
Together, these four components enable individuals to act as their own agents to articulate their needs and make knowledgeable decisions about the required supports to meet those needs.
Self-advocacy skills equip individuals with the strategies to act on their own behalf. Test et al. (2005) identified four essential components of self-advocacy. First, knowledge of self. When students know themselves, including their strengths and weaknesses, goals, support needs, and accommodation needs, they better understand what they need and how to get their needs met. Next, it is also important students understand their rights, including personal rights, educational rights, ways to handle violations, steps to advocate for change, and knowledge of available resources in order to effectively advocate for their needs. A third essential component of self-advocacy involves an individual's ability to communicate including negotiation, body language, listening, and compromise - all of which are key to resolving conflicts. The final component, leadership, includes knowledge of a group's rights and knowledge of resources (Test et al., 2005).
Self-advocacy skills should be taught as early as possible; however, often that is not the case. Therefore, it is critical students with disabilities preparing to transition to postsecondary education or to the workforce are equipped with self-advocacy strategies so they may access the accommodations to which they are entitled.
For students still in high school, these skills should be included in the student's individualized educational program (IEP). In order to meet students' self-advocacy goals as stated in their IEP (e.g., demonstrate appropriate skills in knowing how or when to ask for help, explain the kind of help needed for a situation), the skills should be explicitly taught (Prater, Redman, Anderson, & Gibb, 2014; Walker & Test, 2011; Wood, Kelley, Test, & Fowler, 2010).
The goal of this website is to provide explicit instructions for teaching self-advocacy skills to students with disabilities (SWD; e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, hidden disabilities [i.e., anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder], and learning disabilities).
Under the Research Supporting Self-Advocacy tab, abstracts and citations can be found for studies which have utilized Self-Advocacy and Conflict Resolution (SACR; Rumrill, Roessler, Palmer & Brown, 1999) instruction to teach the necessary skills for students to self-advocate for their academic accommodations.
The Resources tab includes templates for scripted lesson plans as well as scripted notecards used in SACR instruction. For those interested in collecting data; there are data collection sheets and operational definitions included. Also housed in Resources are two PowerPoint presentations one designed for use with students in high school and one designed for use with students in college. The PowerPoint for use with students in high school focuses on the difference between the laws in secondary and postsecondary education (i.e., IDEA to ADA). The PowerPoint for use with students in college focuses on the legal rights of students in postsecondary education.
Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found by clicking the tab. Users are also invited to leave comments or suggestions!
The last tab includes the references cited on this site. Intervention studies are noted by an asterisk.