We believe that people with disabilities and their family members should advocate for themselves whenever feasible. So we provide people with information about their rights under the law, options available to them, and possible outcomes of pursuing different strategies and then refer them to other resources or provide additional support. Our self-advocacy services include:
- Brief advice and referral to other resources
Example: A mother called on behalf of her son, a 28-year-old man with mild mental retardation and cerebral palsy who lives with his parents and has worked for the past five years as a bagger at a grocery store. The mother called because she and her son were concerned that his supervisor was building up a case to fire him, stating that she would "write him up" for being late a few times.
The staff advocate handling this case reviewed relevant sections of the ADA with the young man and his mother, explained how to write a letter requesting a reasonable accommodation, and urged them to review and copy the contents of his personnel file. Because this family has Internet access, they were referred to the websites for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Job Accommodation Network.
The mother and son agreed that they were pleased with the information and technical assistance that was provided and said they would call again if they required further assistance.
- Ongoing provision of advice and strategies to assist individuals advocating on their own behalf or on behalf of a family member to resolve a specific problem
Example: A 55-year-old man who was living on Social Security because of multiple sclerosis was advised by his doctor to do aquatic exercises as part of his physical therapy routine, but the local park district pool was not accessible to someone in a wheelchair. For years, our client had been trying to get the district to remedy this situation by installing a pool lift.
After our client contacted us for assistance, the attorney assigned to this case advised him about the Park District's responsibilities under the ADA, provided him with strategies on negotiating accessibility, and also provided information about pursuing a complaint with the Department of Justice should negotiations prove unsuccessful. Within two months, the park district not only put in a self-operated pool lift but also complied with our client's request to make the bathhouse accessible by installing a ramp and creating a wheelchair path by removing parking bumpers.
Individuals advocating on their own behalf or on behalf of a family member have also successfully faced and resolved problems. For examples of such cases, please visit the Self-Advocacy Victories page.