Communicating Your Needs Through Self-Advocacy

Activity 3: My Practice Script For Requesting Accommodations

Research shows that having a disclosure “script” and practicing it with friends, teachers, relatives, and mentors can be of great benefit to you when the time actually comes to disclose. Most people find that it is easier to talk about the impact of having a disability rather than offering a formal or clinical definition.

For example, someone explaining that they have cerebral palsy could say,

“I have difficulty with fine motor skills. I write more slowly and with more difficulty than other people and become fatigued more easily. Consequently, I will need to use a computer to type essay tests or any other written assignments.”

It is also helpful to include some information relating to areas of strength. Here is one example:

“I am able to use my strong verbal skills to contribute and share my ideas during class while I tape record the entire lecture. If I took notes during the lecture instead of participating in discussion, I would find it difficult to keep up with the discussion.”

To help you practice explaining your disability, write your explanation down. You may have to do this several times before it truly describes what you want to say, in a way that someone who knows very little about disabilities will understand.

Here are some questions and hints to think about while preparing your disclosure practice script:

  • Write about your positive attributes or strengths first.
  • Identify the limitations or challenges you face in school because of your disability.
  • Identify which accommodations have worked best for you in the past and why.
  • End the script with positive points.

Activity 4: Communicating Your Needs Through Self-Advocacy

An essential component of self-advocacy is communicating your needs so that you acquire can the necessary accommodations and supports to be successful. The ability to talk about your disability and academic accommodations is important in the college environment where faculty are unaware of your learning needs. Practice communicating about your disability begins in high school with taking an active part in your IEP meetings.

The following communication tips will assist you in taking the lead in your IEP meetings:

  • Complete Understanding Your Disability Worksheet to the IEP meeting as a way to remind you of your talking points
  • Listen to the discussion
  • Express your desires and goals
  • Ask questions
  • Actively pursue your goals in the meeting