Self Advocacy Tips

Self-advocacy is an important skill for people with disabilities to develop. It can help them to take control of their lives and make decisions that are best for them. Below are some tips about how to effectively self-advocate.

Contact the Elected Officials in your Area

Reaching out to the elected officials in your area such as; the Town Council, Member of the House of Assembly and the Member of Parliament, can be helpful to bring light to barriers you’re experiencing.

The following links will help you find the names and contact information of the MHA and the MP in your area.

House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Current Members of Parliament

How to Write a Self-advocacy Letter

Writing a letter to people with the power to remove barriers can be an effective tool. See a typical letter format and 2 examples of letters (docx) to help you create your own!

Here are some tips for developing self-advocacy skills:

  1. Believe in yourself and your human rights. It is important to remember that you have the right to make decisions about your life and to advocate for yourself. Visit the Humans Rights Resources page to see examples of human rights for persons with disabilities on a provincial, federal and international level. 
  2. As much as possible, do your research. If you need support, ask a family member, friend or disability organization to help you learn about the laws and regulations that affect people with disabilities and how to use them to your advantage.
  3. Come up with a plan. Think about what you want and need, and how to get it.
  4. Practice positive self-talk. Remind yourself of your strengths and abilities and focus on the positive. It can be helpful to remind people of your specific rights.
  5. Prepare for meetings. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you can, write down the key points in advance. If you need more support, ask a friend, family member or disability organization to help you.
  6. Be polite, clear, and direct.
  7. It’s important to be persistent while also being respectful in your communication. Avoid losing your temper. Know your worth and don’t accept anything less than what you deserve. If you are denied the services you need, appeal. Ask if there is a process of appeal and who the appeal should be sent to.
  8. Record important pieces of information, especially the date, name and contact information of the person you spoke with. Save copies of any written communications that you have, including emails and texts. Write down specific things you learned in that conversation as well as things you said. Keep track of any things you need to do, or the other person needs to do, after that conversation.
  9. Sometimes it’s helpful to use the media, including social media, to your advantage. In Newfoundland and Labrador, talk radio programs can be a helpful way to share information and bring issues to the public. Social media platforms are also a way to highlight challenges and possibly find support from others. Be careful not to share too much information of a personal nature and be respectful when talking about others.