Arkansas Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

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Self-Advocacy at the State Capitol Can Bring About Policy Change

Self-Advocacy at the State Capitol Can Bring About Policy Change

Policy change rarely happens overnight and is often linked to broader change in the political environment. Effective advocacy for policy change requires long-term as well as short-term thinking, an understanding of the points of resistance and the means to gain traction, the readiness to form alliances, and the flexibility to seize windows of opportunity.

Self-advocates can exercise their rights as citizens by working together to promote statewide changes in disability policy and practices affecting their lives and the lives of others with disabilities across the state.

Building Effective Relationships with Legislators

It is extremely helpful to have strong allies in the legislature. Get to know where legislators stand on issues and find those who are sympathetic to disability issues. Legislators interested in working on these issues often have a personal connection to someone with a disability. Building relationships with legislators opens the door to work more closely with them to get bills introduced, to help in drafting the language, in shaping the debate on the issues, and in getting legislation signed into law.

It is most beneficial to establish and maintain a consistent relationship with legislators in-between sessions, when your legislator has more time, so that when a bill becomes active you can easily contact your legislator for action.
Be an active advocate:

  • Attend candidate forums or town hall meetings that are held by legislators and candidates.
  • Raise disability issues and ask questions.
  • Respectfully hold elected officials accountable to promises made.

For more tips on effective legislative advocacy, check out our Effective State Legislative Advocacy document.

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