About the Legal Advocacy Program
People who face discrimination or other rights violations often find it difficult to decide what to do first and where to turn for help. Schools and other government agencies, hospitals, businesses and public and private human service agencies have many rules and procedures people need to follow if they want to challenge a decision that has been made, such as a denial or termination of services or benefits. It is often difficult for people to get all the facts quickly in order to take timely action.
Many people can overcome these problems and achieve their goals once they understand their rights and steps they can follow to get them enforced. That's where Equip for Equality can help. Providing self-advocacy services to individuals seeking to resolve a problem on their own behalf, or on behalf of a family member, is one of our cornerstones. We believe that people with disabilities and their families are often their own best advocates when armed with rights information, strategies and advice.
Experienced advocates and attorneys in our three regional offices provide one-on-one advice and suggestions to assist individuals in developing and carrying out an action plan to achieve their personal goals. This assistance is easy to access throughout the state by calling one of our regional offices toll-free. Individuals unable to call us themselves can have initial contact made for them by a family member or others. Check the How To Request Services page for additional information.
Our advocates and attorneys will listen to the individual explain his or her particular problem and will then explain whether this type of case is within our Case Acceptance Priorities for the year, which are set annually by our Board of Directors with input from the public. If the problem is within our priorities, we will determine the level and type of advocacy services that will be provided. Most individuals are provided with a one-time brief consultation in which we provide advice and referrals to other resources.
At other times, we may provide ongoing suggestions on strategy until the individual is able to resolve the problem him or herself. We may also intervene with a phone call, letter or meeting on behalf of the individual to clarify a situation or effect a change.
However, self-advocacy, no matter how good, may simply not be enough, or individuals may not be able to advocate for themselves and may not have active family or friends to assist them in this role. Therefore, in a small number of cases, due to limited resources, we may assign an attorney to provide legal representation in negotiations, administrative proceedings, or in state or federal court. We may also pursue systemic litigation if there is an opportunity to bring large-scale equity to the disability community.
Legal Advocacy Program
20 N. Michigan, Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 341-0022 Se Habla Espaņol ASL
(800) 610-2779 (TTY)
(312) 341-0295 (Fax)