Disability Advocacy Groups

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Groups that advocate for individuals with disabilities may focus on the disabled population in general or on those with certain disabilities. Read on to learn about the different disability advocacy groups and what they do.

Groups that Advocate for the Disability Community

Many groups exist to advocate for the more than 54 million Americans who have disabilities. Along with lobbying for legislation and policies to promote equity and rights, some of these groups also offer support services, raise funds for research, and provide educational materials. Among the groups that are most active with advocacy work are:

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)

The NCLD's advocacy work focuses on educational issues, including the promotion of policies that support proper training for teachers and equity in early education, assessments, and charter schools. In addition to advocacy work, the NCLD offers a support network for young people with learning disabilities along with information and educational tools for parents, educators, and pediatric medical professionals. Tools for teachers include:

  • The RTI Action Network, which provides guidance regarding Response to Intervention. Resources include webinars, podcasts, forums, opportunities to discuss RTI subjects with experts in the field, and a toolkit to help identify learning disabilities.
  • The Get Ready to Read initiative, which promotes literacy for children who have not yet started kindergarten. Resources include screening tools, training webinars, and literacy games and activities for young children.

TASH

TASH is an international organization that advocates for individuals with significant disabilities. They orchestrate public awareness campaigns, organize annual conferences, and conduct advocacy work. Their advocacy focuses on providing access to housing, community resources, and employment; empowering disabled people who represent cultural minorities; and promoting human and civil rights for the disability community.

To inform teachers on the latest policies and initiatives related to teaching children with disabilities, TASH also has an online resource library that provides a variety of informational materials and briefs regarding inclusive education, proposed reforms, and common myths.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

The AAPD advocates for disabled people's rights and quality of living. They push for change at the legislative level that improves equity and accessibility related to housing, voting, transportation, technology, employment, and education.

This organization offers mentoring and internship opportunities to students with disabilities, tool kits for individuals who want to educate others on accessibility issues, and multimedia resources for teachers or administrators interested in implementing anti-bullying initiatives.

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

The NDRN provides legal support to client assistance programs (CAP) and protection and advocacy (P&A) systems responsible for ensuring compliance with federal protections for individuals with disabilities. It also advocates for equity for the disability community in a wide variety of areas, including employment, education, the criminal justice system, and housing. This organization features a Training and Advocacy Support Center, which provides training and resources to CAP and P&A systems across the country.

The Arc

The Arc provides support programs and advocacy for individuals with more than 100 different types of developmental and learning disabilities, such as Down syndrome and autism. It advocates for these individuals by working with members of Congress, federal agencies, and executive offices as well as though litigation in federal courts.

It also offers access to residential, financial, and educational services through almost 700 local chapters. Professionals working with individuals who are disabled can also find training programs and publications online.

Advocacy Groups for Certain Types of Disabilities

Along with the large organizations listed above, there are many groups that advocate and provide support services for individuals who have specific disabilities. A few of these are:

  • The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • The American Foundation for the Blind
  • Autism Speaks
  • The National Association of the Deaf
  • Mental Health America
  • The Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Additional Information

To learn more about legislation and policies supporting people with disabilities, along with strategies for teaching disabled students, check out these self-paced online courses and lessons offered by Study.com:

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