Self Advocacy is knowing what you want, knowing what you do well and what you have difficulty doing. Self advocacy is knowing your rights and your needs and expressing that information to the appropriate person.

An effective self advocate must be able to determine the optimum time to make their request(s), recognize an adverse reaction to the request and/or determine if the person receiving the request understands the need and suggested solution. (Sands, D. J. & Doll, B. 1996 Fostering Self Determination is a Developmental Task, Journal of Special Education)

Good self advocacy empowers people and allows them access to reasonable accommodations and strategies. (Brinkckerhoff, 1994, and Weller, Watteyne, Herbert & Creely, 1994)

Becoming a good self advocate is a process. Ideally, advocacy skills begin developing in middle school. As needs and focus change so should self advocacy skills.

Self-Advocacy Resources

The American Guidance Services, Student Self-Advocacy document details the differences between the responsibilities of the student and the professor.  Knowing what to expect can often alleviate tribulations and help students be more proactive.

Student Self-Advocacy

Ten Steps to Self-Advocacy, taken from Eaton and Coull’s (1988) Transitions to Postsecondary Learning, outlines the essential component for succeeding at the post secondary level.  This list details information of what students need to be able to do in order to thrive at the post secondary level.

Ten Steps to Self-Advocacy

Tips for Successful Communication with Your Professors provides helpful information on how to be proactive and communicate with your college professors/instructors.  Learn what to do before, during, and after the meeting with your professors.  This document was adapted from “Successful Conflict Resolution with a School” by Edward Achziger, Jr.

Tips for Successful Communication with your Professors

This publication from the National Center for Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) addresses the role of parenting postsecondary students with disabilities and becoming the mentor, advocate and guide your young adult needs.

The Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network’s Transition (PYLN) Toolkit engages youth in getting to know themselves well, setting goals, and taking action for their own future.

PYLN Transition Toolkit

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD –Y) has put together comprehensive materials to help youth and families make informed decisions about when, how and if to disclose disability in postsecondary and employment situations.

411 on Disability Disclosure – Thorough free workbook to prepare youth to make their own informed choices about disability disclosure.



The Heath Resource Center at George Washington University is the national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.  This module examines key factors in planning for transition from high school to postsecondary education.

The  United States Department of Labor  Office of Disability Employment Policy presents at their website  the “The Why, When, What, and How of Disclosure in an Academic Setting, After High School”

Problem solving and action planning are important for self advocacy. Here are some simple graphic organizers to practice these important skills.

 Action Planning Chart

Problem Solving Chart