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Community and Internet Resources

Independent Living: Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination

State Listings: CT / IL / MI / MN / MT / NH / NY / OR / WI / / (Official USPS State Abbreviations)


TASH - The Action Starts Here is an international membership association of people with disabilities, their family members, and other disability advocates, based in Maryland. Members of TASH are strong advocates of people who have traditionally been denied access to education, work, and community living. The TASH website provides the assistance people need to effectively advocate for their rights, including linkage with resources, expert assistance toward fighting inequities, legal expertise, and targeted advocacy. For more information or to learn more about becoming a member, call the Maryland Chapter at (410) 828-8274.


Center for Self Determination has a mission to "change the nature of the support and service system for individuals with disabilities, using the principles of self-determination to help all persons create the lives they want, connected to and with their communities." The center offers assistance to both individuals and organizations. Information is not only disseminated via their website but also via resource lists and their informative newsletter. For more information, call (734) 213-5220 or e-mail selfdetermination@earthlink.net.

Kids as Self Advocates (KASA), a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois, is a national, grassroots network of youth with special needs and their friends, speaking on behalf of themselves. Members represent the voice of youth living with disabilities and chronic health conditions by speaking at public events, hearings, to governors and with other policy makers. They also educate medical students and physicians, and fellow students at their schools. To learn how you can become involved in their activities, contact them at (773) 465-3200.

New Sign Self Advocates Becoming Empowered provides links to news, articles and resources that enable people with disabilities to advocate for their rights as American citizens.

State Listings


Western Connecticut Association for Human Rights advocates for the civil and human rights of people with disabilities. They work to create and promote personal success, independence and community involvement for children and adults with disabilities. Programs include Understanding Special Education: A Parent Primer, a 7-hour course that teaches parents how to be an effective advocate/planner for their child, People First, a statewide self advocacy organization, and Parent To Parent, one-on-one telephone support from other parents who have experience raising children with disabilities. For more information, call (203) 792-3540.


Family Support Network of Illinois is a non-profit organization with a mission "to unify individuals with disabilities and their families to advocate for funding, services, and community resources that strengthen and support the individual and the family directly by responding to their individual needs and empowering them to live in their own homes." Their website offers tips on how an individual can communicate with their legislators, offers sample advocacy letters, shares a number of personal family accounts, as well as offers information on how to apply for home-based support services. For more information, call (309) 693-8981 or write to Family Support Network, 5739 West Martindale Lane, Peoria, IL 61615.

People First of Illinois is committed to empowering people with disabilities to make their own decisions and choices and to speak for themselves. People First is made up of groups of people with disabilities who work together for justice by helping each other take charge of their lives and fight discrimination. For more information, call (309) 820-8844 or e-mail ppl1st@PeopleFirstofIllinois.org.


Communities of Power , a program of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (MDRC), is an on-line gathering place for Michigan citizens with disabilities and their allies to join together in discussion on the issues that impact their lives. Their website offers helpful community building tools, advocacy and leadership tips and much more. The site also offers information on Michigan's Assistive Technology Project and projects promoting Health Care and Personal Support. For more information, call MDRC at (800) 760-4600.


Advocating Change Together (ACT) is a non-profit disability rights organization run by and for people with developmental and other disabilities. ACT works to organize persons with disabilities around common issues of concern to affect change in their lives and society as a whole. All are invited to join them in their advocacy efforts. For more information, call (800) 641-0059 or e-mail act@selfadvocacy.org.


RTC Rural, a program of the Rural Institute University of Montana, is an online resource that provides tools that people with disabilities can use to become effective rural advocates and community leaders. This online resource provides information on technology and collaboration, advocacy etiquette, a guide to writing a letter to a public official, information on how people with disabilities may become civil leaders and much more.

New Hampshire

People First of New Hampshire "is a group of people working together to help each other take charge of [their] lives. This is being done by learning how to make decisions and choices in life in order to be more independent. It also means learning rights and responsibilities. [They] support each other and gain confidence to speak out about what [they] believe in." They can teach you how to advocate for your basic human rights. To join in their effort, call (800) 639-6172.

New York

Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Inc., located in Schenectady, New York, is an organization for and led by people with the challenge of a disability to assure the civil rights and responsibilities that include the opportunities and choices of equal citizenship. The association accomplishes this by: educating, advocating, networking, supporting, communicating, improving quality of life, sharing information and resources, and promoting respect and dignity. For more information, call (518) 382-1454.

Self-Advocacy Network, located in Syracuse, New York, is a group organized by and for people with disabilities. This group participates in numerous events and activities, including attendance at various national and state conferences, hosting of luncheons with lawmakers, Sponsored annual conferences on self-advocacy Made presentations at various events Recently starting writing to other people with disabilities all over the world through ICQ chats


Human Services Research Institute offers a Self-Advocate Leadership Network (SALN). The network is a team of self-advocates and their allies who travel anywhere to prepare self-advocates to play a leadership role in shaping developmental disabilities systems to promote self-determination, community integration and participant-driven supports. For more information, contact the Self-Advocate Leadership Network at 8100 SW Nyberg Road, Suite 205, Tualatin, OR 97062 or by phone at (503) 885-1436.


People First of Wisconsin is a statewide self-advocacy organization for people with disabilities. In an effort to empower individuals with disabilities toward self-advocacy, they provide disability rights education, assist individuals in determining how to accomplish their goals, and connect individuals with advocacy groups throughout the state. They also outreach to their local communities and businesses with information regarding disability rights and compliance. For more information, call (888) 270-5352.

ARC of Greater Milwaukee, Inc. offers on-going group activities that focus on self-advocacy and self-determination. Their services are designed to train and support persons with disabilities and inform them about disability issues including: community living, legislative issues, and working with elected officials and the county at state level. For more information, call (414) 774-6255.

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[Updated January 31, 2010]
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