Disability advocates provide assistance and support to ensure that:

  • Your rights are upheld
  • You are an active participate in the decision-making processes
  • Your needs and views are presented to government, service providers and the broader community

However, it is very important to advocate for yourself. Even though there are numerous experts that can help you succeed, the best and most consistent expert is often found within – after all, no one knows you better than yourself! This doesn’t mean you have to know every law – just how to assert yourself and express your needs.


Here are some tips on being a good self-advocate:

  • Think about what you want to change. Before you take a stand, know what you want to happen. Do you want to be treated differently? Do you want something to be done differently?

  • Speak clearly and slowly. Start by saying something like, “I would like to talk with you about…” and then calmly describe how you see the situation.

  • Let the other person speak. Being a self-advocate doesn’t mean that you are the only one talking – the other person/organization needs a chance to respond to what you are saying.

  • Don’t expect immediate results. Change is not always instant – sometimes it takes many conversations, letters, etc. You may need to remind the person/organization more than once.

  • Ask for help. Not everything can be solved on your own so you can and should ask for help. If you’re not sure who to ask, look for help from an organization. The National Disability Rights Network can help you find an advocate.

  • Understand your disability. In many school and job situations, you may need to take the responsibility for explaining to others your exact needs. Practice speaking openly about your needs and strengths with your family and friends. This will make it easier in new situations and with people who don’t know you.

“Despise not any man/woman and do not deem anything unworthy of consideration, for there is no man/woman that does not have his/her hour and no thing that does not have its place.”

Ethics of the Fathers 4:3

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)

The Jewish Federations of North America is involved with Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), held annually in February. The mission of this month is to unite Jewish communities and organizations to raise awareness of the needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges of individuals with disabilities and their families as well as to support meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Jewish life.

Check with your local Jewish Federation for a calendar of events.

Source: Pacer Center Action Information Sheet 

Local Resources

Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities is a statewide advocacy and networking agency comprised of families and friends of persons with developmental disabilities, with the mission to share information and resources.

Self-Advocacy training programs:

Project Self Advocate Leadership Training’s (SALT) is part of The University of Miami’s Mailman Center Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) training program. Project SALT’s vision is to produce an ever-growing cadre of individuals with disabilities with the capacity for self-determination, independence and the ability to participate in their communities in meaningful ways. For more information, email Shelly Baer or call at 305 689-7058.

People First of South Florida is a self-advocacy group run by and for adults with various disabilities to raise awareness of and campaign for the rights of people with learning disabilities and to support self-advocacy groups across the country.

The Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is a unique leadership-training program for high school students with disabilities. For four days, students will represent their communities as delegates in Florida’s state capital, learning to cultivate leadership, citizenship, and social skills.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was the initial legislation that ensures a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and ensures special education and related services to those children.  Students in special education are required by federal law to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Parent to Parent of Miami is a community parent resource center for families of children and adults with all disabilities. Located in Miami, Florida, this program serves families in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, as well as the nation. With the help of Parent to Parent of Miami’s specialized team, parents and professionals can find information, workshops, and other resources to help make decisions about early intervention, early childhood, education, IEP process, vocational training, employment, college opportunities, as well as the laws that protect the rights of children and adults with disabilities. Some services are free, some are fee based.

Disability Rights Florida was founded in 1977 as the statewide designated protection and advocacy system for individuals with disabilities in the State of Florida. Disability Rights Florida is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that has authority and responsibility under nine federal grants. Their services are free and confidential.

Disability Independence Group (DIG) expands opportunities for participation, education, employment and acceptance of persons with disabilities through advocacy, litigation, education and training. Services run the life span, some are fee based while others are not.

The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities Inc. is a nonprofit organization providing protection and advocacy services in the State of Florida. The Center’s mission is to advance the dignity, equality, self-determination and expressed choices of individuals with disabilities.

Learning Disability Association of America (LDA) is an organization of parents and professionals working to help students with disabilities succeed with a focus on prevention, early and effective intervention and a successful transition to adult life. The organization’s goals are to ensure that students with learning disabilities are well represented in the State of Florida accountability system and school choice initiatives.

Florida Disability Resources and Advocacy Organizations

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities works in partnership with local communities to ensure the safety, well-being and self-sufficiency for persons with developmental disabilities throughout Florida. The agency provides assistance to identify the needs of people with developmental disabilities and funding to purchase supports and services. The developmental disabilities identified in Florida law are: Spina Bifida, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Prader-Willi, Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disability. Medicaid Waiver helps people to receive long-term care in the community and it is through Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities provides support coordinators to assist both children and adults in identifying and securing the supports and services they need to live, work and play in places they chose.

Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Service Life Planning Program offers educational seminars, individual consultations, advocacy and emotional support to families who have a family member with any type of disability, including intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental illness and TBI. The program assists families with making viable and appropriate future plans for their family members.

Quick Links:
Disability Rights Florida. Provides statewide advocacy for persons with disabilities, offering information and referral, advocacy, investigation into complaints, negotiation and mediation.
Family Care Council Area 10 Office. Is a voluntary advocacy and educational council, committed to educating, advocating for and empowering every Florida family who has a loved one with a developmental disability.

Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities. Is a statewide advocacy and networking agency comprised of families and friends of persons with developmental disabilities, with the mission to share information and resources.

People First of South Florida. Is a self-advocacy group run by and for adults with various disabilities to raise awareness of and campaign for the rights of people with learning disabilities and to support self-advocacy groups across the country.

Americans Live With an Autism Spectrum Disorder
of Children Have Been Diagnosed with a Developmental Disability