As a Center for Independent Living, Individual and Systems Advocacy, along with Self Advocacy, continue to be integral parts of SIL’s array of programs and services. Individual advocacy involves advocating on behalf of a single individual. Examples of individual advocacy can include calling a landlord on behalf of a consumer to help with widening a bathroom doorway or installing grab bars. Self-Advocacy is another form of individual advocacy that involves advocating on behalf of oneself. SIL works to help consumers to develop self-advocacy skills as well.
Systems Advocacy includes advocacy on behalf of a group or class of individuals, such as efforts to influence and implement local, state and national policy and legislative changes. Examples of Systems Advocacy include educating legislators directly about disability-related issues and/or about the implications of proposed disability-related legislation. Systems Advocacy can also include participation on community based committees and coalitions working to improve systems such as access to benefits and health care. SIL is an active member in a number of state and local coalitions and committees addressing issues such as fair housing, access to health care and personal assistance, increasing consumer directed options in long-term care and direct-care workforce.
The ultimate goal of all advocacy efforts – Individual Advocacy or Systems Advocacy -- is to create an integrated society that is accessible and barrier free. As individuals with disabilities, we need to reach out and make ourselves heard. It is vitally important that legislators and others in a position to make decisions hear about the implications, both positive and negative, of proposed disability-related bills and/or regulatory actions.