The Arc of Texas — 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
Train individuals with IDD and family members on how to impact disability policy at the local, regional, and state levels.

Project Summary
The Arc of Texas held 57 training events for 1,276 individuals on public policy advocacy for persons with IDD. Participants included self-advocates, family members, and professionals. Basic and advanced advocacy trainings were organized, and advanced trainings were provided through a local Arc chapter. The project also contracted with three part-time local area network (LAN) organizers who supported the development and ongoing advocacy work of local policy consortia.

A basic curriculum was developed and presented as a two-day training event that provided information and training in advocacy. An advanced advocacy curriculum was developed and held during a follow-up full day training session focusing on advanced skills development. These trainings were presented by three part-time local coordinators, project coordinators, and other staff at The Arc of Texas.

For many of the trainees, the basic legislative information was most helpful. This part of the training put them on the path to understanding who to contact with regard to policy issues. Families who attended the trainings were able to discuss their concerns. The two biggest issues raised were better training for school personnel and planning for the future of a child with IDD after parents pass away. Attendees received training to advocate for change and found the information helpful in planning and problem-solving.

The LANs identified special education systems advocacy as their most important issue. They worked on special education systems advocacy. In some cases, it was simply educating families, and in other areas the LANs coordinated Transition Fairs and testimony before the school board.

Ad hoc opportunities for LAN coordinators to present advocacy training and information presented themselves, thus coordinators often pursued networking opportunities in venues separate from formal, scheduled training events. They also engaged many individual advocates in activities hosted by other entities in their respective communities, taking advantage of all opportunities to network, build relationships, and develop advocacy allies and an advocacy network across Texas.

Training events were held in communities in an additional six legislative districts. A total of 24 Texas communities received one or more trainings. An additional outcome was the approval of up to seven continuing education units for Social Workers who participate in the advanced advocacy training.

  • Impact
    • 1,276 individuals were trained at 57 events on public policy advocacy, including:
      • over 250 self-advocates,
      • over 600 family members, and
      • over 300 professionals
    • Individuals who attended the trainings were able to participate in the semi-annual rally day, meeting with legislators or their aides

Project Period
Aug 2004 – Jul 2007

8100 Centre Park Drive
Austin, TX 78754

Geographic Reach

Orange shape of Texas indicating state wide coverage