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Advocating for Inclusion: Strategies for Individuals

When individuals with disabilities encounter barriers to social and recreational inclusion within organizations, it may be an occasion for advocacy by the individual and/or others. Below are some steps for effective advocacy:

  1. Know the Goals. Understand your goals or those of the individual for whom you’re advocating in relation to the barrier.
  2. Find the Right Level and Right Person. Identify the level of the organization at which the problem is occurring and the person likely to have the authority to correct the situation at that level. Begin advocacy there.
  3. Present the Problem. Approach the person who has authority and present the problem. Ask whether the person is aware of the problem. If unaware, inform them of the history and details of the situation.
  4. Present Your Goals. Clearly and briefly express your advocacy goals.
  5. Respond to Resistance. If the person seems unsupportive, ask the person to describe the mission and goals of the organization. Point out any ways in which their response to the problem conflicts with the mission and goals. Find out if the person is aware of the rights of individuals with disabilities; if they are unaware, inform them about rights that relate to this situation. Ask again if they have authority to work with you to correct the situation. If they do not, find out who does. Begin again.
  6. Brainstorm and Implement Solutions. With the person who has authority, brainstorm possible solutions. After implementation of a solution, monitor the situation to see if it improves.
  7. Thank Supporters. After the situation has been resolved, thank those who assisted in its resolution.

Adapted with permission from Yes I Can: A Social Inclusion Curriculum for Students With and Without Disabilities (1997). By Brian Abery et al. Published by the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.


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Citation: Gaylord, V., Lieberman, L., Abery, B. & Lais, G. (Eds.). (2003). Impact: Feature Issue on Social Inclusion Through Recreation for Persons with Disabilities, 16(2) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration. Available from


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