Being An Effective Advocate

According to JARC's School Inclusion Coordinator, Chaya Leah Tinman, whether as a parent, teacher, or guardian, there are several imperatives when acting as an advocate for someone with a disability:

  • Be prepared - Gather and organize facts and documents
  • Know what the law says - Ask for policies/regulations/laws in writing
  • Gather all your documentation - This includes pertinenant letters and emails
  • Keep ALL records - Never discard even minor notes
  • Follow up on meetings - Send written correspondence of thanks and re-list all points discussed and agreed to
  • Ask questions - If you don't understand something, chances are others don't either.  Ask the famous "W's":  Who, What, Why, Where and When
  • Make sure you are clear that the person you are advocating for is the focus - It's not about your wants or needs
  • Propose solutions - There is almost always room for negotiation, so decide what you are able and willing to accept as a satisfactory outcome