At one time or another everyone needs an advocate. However, those with disabilities have an added challenge. The organization must be an effective advocate and aware of the laws and specific needs of the disabled population. On the other hand, those in need of an advocate must be aware of the questions to ask an organization in order to get the best representation possible. Read further to understand how to find a disability advocate.
Determine the type of advocacy needed. For example, is an attorney needed for legal representation in court, are lobbyists needed to change laws at the capitol, or is assistance needed for finding employment?
Determine the goals of the advocacy and the costs. There may be opportunities to leverage with existing organizations to access what is needed. For instance, there are organizations that provide free legal assistance.
Meet with at least three organizations. During the meetings, discuss how the organization functions, their track record with similar cases, how they communicate progress, and the amount of involvement needed.
Select the organization based upon the needs and expectations.
Create a timeline, along with the advocate, for goal completion. If the goal is to change laws, it is more difficult to set timelines for that to occur because of the many variables. However, the willingness to provide testimony to local, state and national representatives may accelerate the timelines. On the other hand, if the goal is to find employment, it is easier to set a timeline.
Communicate with the advocate on a consistent basis and follow-up when needed.
- Be sure to provide accurate and timely information to the advocate when it is requested. Ask for recommendations from previous clients of the advocate for an indication of the organization's work habits. Most states have disability advocacy resources.
- Do not rush the process; set realistic goals, expectations and timelines.