Individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities have the right to act as self-advocates. Self-advocates exercise their rights as citizens in representing themselves and having a say in decision-making in all areas of their daily lives and in public policy decisions that affect them.Today, many self-advocacy groups now exist and can provide ways to learn more about self-advocacy skills or information on topics such as:

  • Your rights and responsibilities as a citizen, such as the right to vote
  • Development of leadership and assertiveness skills
  • Gaining confidence in your abilities
  • Using your expertise as a person living with disabilities
  • Development of public speaking skills and problem-solving techniques
  • Involvement on boards and task forces and with policymakers at the local, state, and national level

Without self-advocacy skills, Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Acquired Brain Disorders will have little impact on their own situations or on public policy that affects them.

One Sky Community Services’ Family Support Advisory Council would be a good place to start to learn more about self- advocacy. Please go to their link located on the homepage



To locate your Senator or Representative: go to, choose “Legislative Branch” and click on “Who is My Legislator?”

  • Be friendly – legislators are happy to hear from constituents
  • Remember – quantity matters. If a legislator hears from 5, 10, or 50 people, that is a groundswell
  • Introduce yourself – give your name and town
  • State your reason for contact – “I am asking you to support/oppose (issue, bill, etc.)”
  • Use Bill number, sponsor and title if your contact is about legislation
  • Tell your story (briefly) – how this will impact you, your family, people you care about
  • Thank your legislator for the time and attention, for the support, for the vote. ***Call/write/visit again. (When you establish a record of reasonable, positive correspondence you develop clout on future issues) 

Phone Contact:

  • You are not imposing by calling – legislators appreciate learning more about the issues they face
  • Leave a message – state the bill number, your position, and a phone number in case there are questions
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you will get the answer and call back, and then follow up

Write a Letter:

  • If you use sample letters-add a personal touch if you can
  • Use personal stationery or letterhead
  • Include your name and address on the letter as envelopes may get discarded
  • Typed letters are easier to read, but handwritten letters are more personal (if they are legible)

Personal Contact:

  • Make an appointment
  • Introduce yourself – even if you’ve met before
  • Ask what you can do
  • Leave written material


  • If you are contacting your own legislator, put your name and town in the message
  • Don’t use attachments – not everyone can open them