East Texas Center for Independent Living — Local Advocacy Training

Local Advocacy Training

Statewide Need
To help ensure that the interests of all citizens in Texas are represented in public policy discussions and decisions, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families must have the opportunity to participate actively in the policymaking process. By serving as primary sources for information regarding the real-life impacts of legislative and policy decisions, they can provide legislators and other policymakers with an understanding of the needs of individuals with IDD and their families. Through advocacy training programs, people with IDD and their families can provide substantive input to policymakers about programs, services, and issues directly affecting their lives, and local advocacy networks can provide a range of support to individual advocates in their communities.

Project Goal
Develop a regional advocacy training network for individuals with IDD, their families, and other concerned citizens.

Project Summary
The East Texas Advocacy Project (ETAP) held training and advocacy activities for 92 culturally diverse participants in East Texas. Participants selected transportation issues as the focal point for training and advocacy activities, followed by health and education/early intervention.

Advocacy at the local, state, and regional levels raised awareness of issues. Participants and planning advisory committee (PAC) members also developed methods of educating community members on sensitivity to issues for persons with IDD that may not directly impact the community members. PAC members proactively trained community members on disability issues through activities in their interest areas. For example, the health issues committee presented a skit at the “Senior Expo” event and at a local hospital. The training/education committee targeted physical and communication barriers for persons with IDD and provided continuing education credits to those who attended the training.

Training activities included litter pickups, capitol visits, Arc Walk a Mile, Help America Vote Act, various transportation trainings, health panel presentations, and support group activities. These training activities were designed for participants to explore ways in which they could make a difference in their communities. For example, participants in the litter pickups learned how to safely pick up trash along highways while other participants were trained on how to use the transit system or on how to make their voices heard through the voting process. Many webcasts were also held on topics including coping with chronic illness, accessible parking programs, and strategies for increasing community awareness.

Media personnel were invited to cover various ETAP events. Coverage included the ETAP Kite Flying Fundraiser and the Crystal Ball Carwash. These media outreach efforts resulted in an interview and story on CBS 19 as well as other PSA and media events.

  • Impact
    • Over 12 training activities were held
      • 92 consumers, family members, and community members participated in training and advocacy activities
    • 4,440 community members received information on various disability issues:
      • 2,193 on transportation
      • 1,519 on health
      • 721 on education and early intervention
      • 7 on other areas of interest
    • 11 media and PSA events provided coverage of the program’s activities
    • Participants formed a support group and became active voices to improve transit system services
    • Participants gained skills, self-confidence, and knowledge in exercising control over life situations and making their own choices
    • Some participants met legislators and the Secretary of State, emailed congressional representatives, or participated in public forums and health panels
    • Participants became active on steering committees and taking leadership roles at the local level
      • One participant was selected to sit on a local Disability Review Committee

Project Period
Aug 2004 – Jul 2007

4713 Troup Hwy.
Tyler, TX 75703

Geographic Reach
East Texas