Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy involves persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities speaking up for themselves to express their individual needs, goals, and desires. For some, it also involves advocating for others with disabilities in order to improve systems of services and supports.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) provides programs and resources for persons with disabilities who want to gain skills and knowledge so that they can become effective advocates. We also partner within Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and with other local, state, and international organizations who support self-advocacy.

At the buttons to the left, we’ve provided links to VKC self-advocacy activities and resources and to the activities of some of our partners. You can navigate and explore these resources by area of emphasis. 

We’ve also included a button to connect you with state and national groups that work in the area of self-advocacy

 

Education and Early Intervention

For self-advocates and families:

  • Transition Tennessee offers online and in-person resources to prepare transition-age youth with disabilities for life after high school.
  • Next Steps at Vanderbilt, a four-year inclusive higher education program at Vanderbilt University for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities; also see Next Steps Summer Institute.
  • ThinkCollege, a national website that lists higher education programs in Tennessee and other states that have programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Postsecondary Pathways for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, a guide produced by Project Support and Include of Vanderbilt University. [printable resource—how to best differentiate].
  • The Vanderbilt Consortium LEND trains health professionals to better serve children and adults with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities. In the past, eligible self-advocates have participated in the training program.
  • Take part in research to help others with and without disabilities.
  • Volunteer Advocacy Project, trains individuals to become special education advocates so they can provide instrumental and affective support to families of children with disabilities in Tennessee.

For graduate students and professionals:

  • The Vanderbilt Consortium LEND prepares graduate-level health professionals in 15 professions to assume leadership roles to serve children and adults with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.
  • The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) collaborates with University of Tennessee College of Social Work to provide field placements for MSSW candidates. The social work trainees work with self-advocates and faculty to meet learning objectives. Contact Carol Rabideau.
  • Vanderbilt Reading Clinic trains tutors from five or more disciplines to teach reading skills and help children with reading challenges find their voices in advocating for themselves.
  • Volunteer Advocacy Project, trains individuals to become special education advocates so they can provide instrumental and affective support to families of children with disabilities in Tennessee.

For all (Educating and Advocating):

  • Educate to Advocate is an annual training for students, researchers, health care professionals, service providers, educators, individuals with disabilities, and family members that provides information and tools to promote disability policy advocacy.
  • Disability Day on the Hill is an opportunity to meet with state legislators at the Capitol to talk about issues important to individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

Employment

For self-advocates and families

For all (Educating and Advocating):

  • Educate to Advocate is an annual training for students, researchers, health care professionals, service providers, educators, individuals with disabilities, and family members that provides information and tools to promote disability policy advocacy.
  • Disability Day on the Hill is an opportunity to meet with state legislators at the Capitol to talk about issues important to individuals with disabilities and their families.

Health and Mental Health 

For self-advocates and families:

  • Going To The Doctor, a tip sheet for adults with disabilities that explains why people go to the doctor and what to expect before, during, and after a visit.

For all (Educating and Advocating):

  • Educate to Advocate is an annual training for students, researchers, health care professionals, service providers, educators, individuals with disabilities, and family members that provides information and tools to promote disability policy advocacy.
  • Disability Day on the Hill is an opportunity to meet with state legislators at the Capitol to talk about issues important to individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

Quality of Life

For all:

State and National Resources

For all:

 

For all (Educating and Advocating):

  • Educate to Advocate is an annual training for students, researchers, health care professionals, service providers, educators, individuals with disabilities, and family members that provides information and tools to promote disability policy advocacy.
  • Disability Day on the Hill is an opportunity to meet with state legislators at the Capitol to talk about issues important to individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

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