Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Eleven Commandments of Advocacy

Meg Casey
November 30, 1983

Dear Readers,

The main objective behind this column has been to help people come to a better understanding of what disabilities are and what having a disability can mean to a life - whether it be for their own life or that of a loved one or just that of others around them, - so that they as people might be able to learn how to deal with social interaction in a genuinely self-confident manner.

I think you will find that these Eleven Commandments of Advocacy are useful guides to follow no matter what choices face you in a advocating for a specific cause or in promoting yourself in a personal endeavor.

1) Be assertive – But neither attackingly aggressive nor too passive.

2) Be yourself – Use your advocacy style; do not try to mimic someone else. Some people come on like gang busters and are very effective; others work quietly with firmness and persistence; others use a mixture of the two.

3) - Be aware that skills you have developed in other areas may also be useful in advocacy work, e.g., Expertise developed from party organization, parenting, business, the arts.

4) Be Versatile – Be aware that many skills other than public speaking are needed in advocacy work, e.g.; organizational writing, facilitational writing, facilitating, research, public relations, secretarial, bookkeeping. You certainly have some skill needed for advocacy work!

5) Use Your Power – Remember, you do have power as a citizen. You can ask to speak to public officials for a reasonable time. You can get access to public records, you can enter public buildings and speak at public hearings. You also have personal power, or an ability to persuade. Use it to obtain your goals.

6) Use Your Vote – In dealing with public officials, remember: as a taxpayer you support them financially – and elected officials need your vote to stay in office.

7) Don't Assume Anything – Do not take it for granted that the person you're talking with knows more than you do; they may, in fact, know very little about this disability rights of the particular issue you aren discussing Many people, particularly elected officials need to be educated.

8) Negotiate to Win – When negotiating, ask for a little more than you want so that you can compromise without losing anything essential. But did not ask for as much asked that at use your credibility.

9) Beware Of False Friends – Watch out for a “smoke screen" opponents, i.e. those to be nice and understanding but really are opposed your rights. Beware of seductive behavior and excuses like "No money" or "I'm not the person responsible" and be prepared to respond accordingly.

10) Don't Give Up – Even a loss one year does not mean you can't win the following year. Everytime you try to advocate for a specific cause or disabled issues in general, you at least begin to educate each person you talk to.

11 Appeal Your Issues–be aware that you may not always win, at least not the first time around. Even the best advocates lose occasionally. So be prepared to appeal a decision made or comprise when necessary. Losing does not make you a bad person are bad advocate. – Keep On Plugging! –

Milford Polished-Marble
© 2015 to 2018 site design by Daniel Ortoleva
photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
We did not feel that a disagreement should prevent the public from learning and enjoying these incredible pieces of advice and show they are still relevant to today.