Texas Advocates — Grassroots Community Organizing

Grassroots Community Organizing

Statewide Need
When the self-advocacy movement began in the 1960s, many people did not listen to what people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) said they wanted for themselves or their communities. Now, self-advocates are working together to make important changes in their communities. Although many people still do not view people with IDD as equal partners and leaders, people who have IDD have ideas and opinions that are important and need to be heard.

Project Goal
Organize a group of self-advocates in Greater Austin to create change in their community at their direction so that people with IDD are included in their community. Identify, recruit and meet with self-advocates to learn about their goals and help them organize, choose leaders, plan meetings, invite speakers, identify project goals, and develop and implement a plan to achieve these goals.

Project Summary
Texas Advocates recruited and engaged self-advocates to learn about goals for their lives. A Community Organizing Group (COG) was formed, comprised of these self-advocates. The COG created a strategic plan and continued to work toward their goals of better employment, transportation, housing, and community-based activities.

Specific issues were addressed through the work of this COG, including material access issues at a community center, more accessible bathrooms at Austin City Hall, and addressing the myth that people on benefits cannot work for minimum wage or work a significant number of hours without losing benefits. Transportation and employment became the largest focuses of the COG, culminating in presentations and further group outreach on the subjects.

  • Impact
    • 126 people were active in creating systems change as a result of this project
      • Approximately 50 were individuals with IDD
    • Over 40 one-on-one meetings were conducted per year with participants to ensure self-advocates stayed engaged and involved in the COG
    • Over four local community meetings and events were attended by staff alongside self-advocate COG representatives per grant period
    • Staff supported self-advocates to attend at least one self-advocate or disability conference per year
    • Self-advocates presented on preparing for legislative sessions and transportation advocacy at the Texas Advocates and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered conferences
    • The COG hosted self-advocates across the state to visit the Capitol and share direct experiences with legislators
    • Over 100 advocates visited the Capitol during Texas Advocates’ most active legislative session in many years
    • The group is continuing to present on transportation advocacy to other self-advocate groups

Project Period
Apr 2015 – Jun 2018

8001 Centre Park., Suite 100
Austin, TX 78754

Geographic Reach
Greater Austin area, including Hays, Travis and Williamson counties

shape of state of Texas in blue with Williamson, Travis and Hays counties colored orange