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Policy and Advocacy: A Curriculum for thoughtful leaders

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Fostering disability advocates (290KB) [download]

Briefly describe the activity and its purpose.

Trainees come to Cincinnati LEND with a wide range of policy and advocacy experience, exposure and interest. The policy and advocacy curriculum is designed to provide all trainees with an understanding of the legislative process and the policy issues impacting people with disabilities, including the training and supports to actively educate policymakers. For those trainees with a particular passion for policy, there are opportunities to research current disability related legislation, to create policy briefs, and to educate local, state, and federal policymakers.

Didactic, interactive and role playing methods are used to teach the fundamentals of governmental structure and the legislative process. As basic concepts are mastered, all trainees research specific legislation and are guided through the process of advocating for or against that legislation, first in classroom practice sessions with multiple rounds of feedback, then educating elected officials at the state capitol during the state's developmental disability advocacy day. Attendance at Disability Policy Seminar provides additional opportunities for advocacy and greater understanding of the legislative process.

Throughout the year, "pop-up" lessons via short didactic sessions or email updates called "Policy Pieces" are provided to address and give context to current disability and healthcare issues of concern as they arise in the news.

The importance of non-legislative advocacy and of continuing advocacy beyond the LEND experience is highlighted with a year-end panel presentation of guest speakers who have actively advocated on behalf of those with disabilities. Panelists have included a former LEND trainee who is a candidate for state office running on a disability and mental health platform and a former LEND family trainee who filed an ADA complaint on behalf of her brother regarding a non-wheelchair accessible store. Additional coursework requires the trainees to analyze a series of real-world experiences from a policy perspective, discussing systems changes and advocacy opportunities.

In-class curriculum is offered across four, two-hour sessions. For more specific information, see below:
1) Fundamentals of Government and Legislation
Didactic session covering governmental structure and legislative process, including overview of federal, state and local policy makers, disability related current events and pending legislation. This session also introduces trainees to grassroots advocacy methods by disability focused organizations and invites their participation in the process by signing up for updates of particular interest to each. Often, guest speakers are invited and have previously included AUCD's Public Policy staff.
2) Legislative Process in depth and guided interactive legislative exercise
A guest speaker from the DD Council provides a detailed and comprehensive survey of the state-level legislative process followed by a guided, interactive simulation of the legislative process in which the trainees play the roles of legislators and opposing constituent groups negotiating the process of bill passage and candidate support using mock topics such as advocacy for a chocolate factory, technology company, medical groups, or family groups.
3) Advocacy in Action
This session begins with instruction on the legislative advocacy meeting and videos of how to conduct such meetings. All trainees use the policy briefs previously created by trainees with an interest in public policy to prepare for role-play legislator visits in small groups. Faculty act as mock legislators meeting with the trainees and providing feedback. Trainees experience multiple meetings in order to increase skills. Trainees are then prepared to advocate on these issues when they meet with their elected representatives and senators in at the state capitol during the annual developmental disability day.
4) Taking Policy Out into the World
Guest panelists, many of them former LEND trainees, speak about their experiences advocating for those with disabilities.
Trainees work in small groups to analyze and problem-solve disability related scenarios from a policy perspective using both a person-centered and a systems focus.

 

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