A self-advocate is someone who speaks up for themselves.  The following steps will help you become a stronger self-advocate.

Step 1:  Get to know yourself.  It helps to start by figuring out:

  • The self-advocacy skills you have, and the ones you need to work on (such as communication, assertiveness, listening, negotiating)
  • The areas of your life in which you are a strong self-advocate (such as school, friendships, etc.)
  • The areas in which you want to speak up more and play a bigger role in decision-making
  • This resource can help you do a self-assessment in the areas of learning, connecting, thriving, working and leading http://www.ncld-youth.info/Downloads/Am_I_Learning_to_Lead_Self_Assmt_Youth.pdf

Step 2:  Learn your rights and responsibilities

  • If you have a disability, you have the right to reasonable accommodations at school and work
  • It is your responsibility to know what a reasonable accommodation is, and how to ask for one
  • If you have a disability, visit this site to learn more about your rights http://www.ndrn.org/index.php

Step 3:  Speak Up!  You can start doing this by:

  • Sharing your thoughts and opinions in class, at the dinner table, at your place of worship, etc.
  • Asking questions if you don’t understand something your teacher, advisor or your doctor says
  • Standing up for your rights if you think they’re being violated
  • When appropriate, asking for accommodations at school or work

Step 4:  Team Up!  Think about building a team of people you trust to help you become a stronger self-advocate.  Some of these people could be:

  • Friends and older students you admire
  • Teachers, coaches, principals, and academic advisors or counselors
  • Family members who want you to be as independent as possible

Download this fact sheet >


Adapted from Youth in Action! Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate, National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability. Retrieved from http://www.ncwd-youth.info/tip-sheet/becoming-a-self-advocate