State and Local Government: Advocacy
Self Advocacy Tips and Techniques
United Spinal Organization has a number of self-advocacy resources and services available. Below is a manual specific to grass roots advocacy.
Know the laws and regulations that apply. Go to Department of Justice's ADA website, www.ada.gov. to get the full overview of all disability rights laws that include state and local governments, employment, housing, transportation, telecommunications and more.
As a public member of the community, you have a right to ask your
- Did you do a transitional plan (sometimes called self-evaluation)? May I see it?
- What is your policy and procedure regarding effective communication?
- Does your local emergency planning include all communication needs including devices that work if there is no power and an interpreter is not available?
Effective Communication, bring it home
Every citizen has a right to receive information that will benefit them, especially when that information is coming from the auspices of state and local government. Whether it is a local town meeting or juror duty, an individual with a disability has a right to receive and communicate effectively so that they can participate equally. It could be as simple as arranging the seating in an accessible manner and using a microphone. It could be as complicated as using an FM system, CART or other sophisticated assistive technologies. The most important thing to remember is that every individual has a right to hear the information given. You can use such civil rights laws as Title II and IV of the ADA, Sunshine Laws, Open Meeting Laws, the Rehab Act, Sections 504 and 508, and the Telecommunications Act to bring home the fact that access to information and providing it in an effective format is crucial. Go to our Industry Solutions page to get examples of how ITY can be used in the daily and sporadic needs of the local community.
How to respond to "This is an undue hardship"
Title II entities under the ADA do not receive or have access to any financial assistance. Unlike private businesses that can tap into tax credits and breaks, county and state agencies do not have access to these same tools. What they are to do when it comes to accommodations under the ADA, is to streamline the cost with their overall budget. If a public entity says that they can't afford an accommodation or it's an undue hardship, then you have the right to challenge that. Here are three ways to approach this:
- All public entities were to do a self-evaluation plan after the enactment of the ADA by January 26, 1993. You can ask to see the transition plan to see if effective communication was addressed. Below is a link on Title II self-evaluation plan per the ADA: www.ada.gov/taman2.html#II-8.2000
- There are several factors under undue financial hardship. Below is the definition to help ascertain if providing effective communication is truly a financial hardship.
- Undue hardship" means significant difficulty or expense relative to the operation of a public entity's program. Where a particular accommodation would result in an undue hardship, the public entity must determine if another accommodation is available that would not result in an undue hardship. (Reference, ADA, Title II, 4.3200)
- You can file a Title II complaint with the US Department of Justice if the above steps don't work, at www.ada.gov/t2cmpfrm.htm.