A disability advocate is someone who wants to show their support by educating others about a disabling condition. Disability advocates are agents for change and they can accomplish this goal in a variety of ways. Whether you want to dive into an advocacy role full time or volunteer when you have a little time in your schedule, being an advocate is something everyone can do.
Who Can Be an Advocate?
You don't need to have a doctor's degree or be a caregiver of a disabled person to become an advocate. Advocates are individuals who have some spare time to volunteer in their community. They may have learned about a specific disability from a friend or family member and have decided that they would like to champion that cause. In many instances advocates are people who have been touched by a disability, either as a caregiver, friend or relative. In some cases the advocates are those who are disabled themselves.
What Does an Advocate Do?
An advocate can be involved in educating others about disability issues in many different ways. Some of these ways include faxing legislators, assisting with email campaigns, writing blogs or creating websites. Advocates are usually volunteers who work with various disability foundations, though some individuals may eventually decide to raise awareness for their cause on a full time basis.
How to Become an Advocate
If you have the time to help raise awareness for a particular disability, the first step is to make contact with someone who organizes volunteers for your particular cause. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use an Internet search engine to locate a group. For example, if you want to be an advocate for the Lupus Foundation you would visit their website and click on their "Get Involved" tab. Other foundations have similar ways to make contact, such as having "Volunteer" links on the main pages of their website. Alternatively, websites such as AbililtyHub.com provide lists of links to various disability organizations worldwide.
What to Expect
Advocates who want to be involved in helping raise awareness of a disability should let their volunteer coordinators know how much time they want to spend for the organization and to what extent. Some people only want to spend a few hours a month answering phones, while others have more time to organize fundraisers and charity events. No matter what your level of commitment is, it will always be appreciated. Through advocacy you will become the voice of those who otherwise may not be heard.