For most people, the world of public policy is a mystery, something that happens behind the scenes if not completely out of sight. Every few years we go to the ballot box and elect leaders to (hopefully) solve some of our problems. But there are times when an issue becomes so hot, so personally meaningful, that we as everyday citizens are compelled to take direct action.
At AbleLight, we advocate regularly for issues that matter to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We want to uphold their rights and make their voices heard on everything from proper funding for support programs to increased accessibility for people with disabilities in public spaces.
We particularly encourage people who have an intellectual or developmental disability to get directly involved. Often, they are the best advocates for their cause, because of their unique experiences and their ability to communicate in their own way what it means to them.
Becoming an advocate means you’re trying to focus officials’ attention on what matters to YOU as opposed to the myriad other things they could consider. It all starts with learning about issues and the process. Which layer of government has an impact on my concern? Who are my elected officials? From there, advocates have many ways to communicate.
- Signing an online petition is very helpful – it connects you with others who feel similarly, demonstrating strength in numbers.
- Meeting one-on-one with lawmakers or their staff communicates the seriousness with which you take an issue.
- Public testimony is a highly visible way to make your case when an issue is up for discussion and a decision.
To learn more about matters affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to get involved, please visit the AbleLight Legislative Action Center. There you can stay up to date on the latest news and information regarding public policy affecting the disabilities field and the people we support.