A Preface to Advocacy

From the Disability Visibility Project: For the Entire Post, Go Here…

Below is an excerpt from A Preface to Advocacy: What You Should Know as an Advocate, a guide by Erin Gilmer. You can read the entire document here as a Google doc. Many thanks to Erin for sharing this resource with the Disability Visibility Project!

A Preface to Advocacy: What You Should Know as an Advocate

Erin Gilmer

There are a lot of amazing advocacy toolkits out there that teach people how to advocate. They include tools to help you form your advocacy goals, advice on how to contact legislators and convey your story, tips on how to testify, and more. But there isn’t a lot of guidance on what it really means to be an advocate – the challenges you’ll face, the ups and downs you’ll experience, the realities of the commitment involved, the people skills that will impact your work, and the toll it advocacy can take.

What follows are insights from advocates from every walk of life who shared what they wish they knew going into advocacy and what advice they’d give to other advocates. They are based on responses to a tweet I sent out on August 18, 2019 asking:

“What is something you wish you knew before getting into advocacy? And what is a tip you’d give to someone who wants to start advocating?”

Over 100 people responded and I’ve done my best to include all voices. Please note that including the responses here are not an endorsement of any person or their advocacy. Additionally, know that I purposefully am identifying people by their Twitter handles with any “name” put in parentheses. This is how people self-identify and I felt it was the most important way to convey their experiences.

This preface to advocacy has been divided into sections including:

Committing to Advocacy
Before you Decide to Commit
Seeing the Bigger Picture
Coming Prepared
Committing to Those You Work With and Following Through
Advocacy Takes Time

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