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Self-Advocacy Curricula
 

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A curriculum in self-advocacy involves teaching information that will enable adults with learning disabilities to: (a) make informed decisions; (b) set goals; (c) communicate interests, needs, and rights to achieve goals; (d) take responsibility for decisions and advocacy; (e) apply selfadvocacy information, skills, and strategies across a variety of situations; and (f) link with support resources or agencies in the community that will provide the adult with opportunities to develop self-advocacy skills over time.

Key Elements
To many people, literacy is more than being able to read. Being literate means being able to perform a variety of functions independently and to fully participate in and enjoy life. Teaching an adult to be a self-advocate involves a combination of strategies, social skills, and knowledge. Selfadvocacy curricula should include the following characteristics.

Understanding of the Individual's Learning Disability
Adults need to know the characteristics of their learning disability and how these characteristics affect their learning. They should learn how to detect situations in which their learning disabilities may cause a learning or performance problem.

Information about the Learner's Legal Rights and Responsibilities
Adults should be fully informed of their rights under the law, the responsibilities of employers and agencies related to providing equal access to services for adults with learning disabilities, and the mechanisms that are in place to obtain these rights. Advocating for these rights should include instruction in self-understanding and self-assertion.

Social Skills for Seeking Help and Cooperation
Adults should be taught social skills for situations such as requesting the information they need about testing or other situations in which they may need accommodations. They also need to be taught the appropriate ways to share specific and relevant information with professionals and employers.

Ways to Request Accommodations
Learning about accommodations puts emphasis on discovering useful ways of coping with and getting around the functional limitations of an individual's learning skills. Adults need to know the types of accommodations which are appropriate for their specific disabilities, how accommodations should be provided, the conditions under which accommodations should be used and will be helpful, how to request accommodations, and how to seek and use accommodations independently. The challenge of requesting accommodations also may require instruction in specific social skills.

Emphasis on Meeting Individual Responsibilities
Self-advocacy involves accepting the responsibility for one's own success. Adults need to learn the actions necessary in specific situations to function independently and responsibly.

Appropriate Use of Self-Advocacy Curricula
Adults with learning disabilities often face situations or conditions in their lives that they feel helpless to improve. For example, they may not have been given equal access to a desired employment opportunity because reasonable accommodations were not provided. When conditions in an adult's life demand change, a self-advocacy curriculum should be considered. In most instances, this approach simply enhances other options selected.


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