Welcome to The Alliance’s Self-Advocacy Leadership Manual!  We wrote the first version of this manual in 2011 to help other people who wanted to form a self-advocacy group get started.  Well, we have learned an awful lot since 2011, so we wanted to update it with some new tricks and tools for you guys to take back to your groups (and by “we” I mean advocates, and advisors and staff alike).  We hope you will make use of this book, no matter how long your group has been around.  Alliance Self-Advocacy Leadership Manual


YOU’RE ON BOARD! A Short Guide for People with Disabilities Who Are On Agency Boards and Committees by Amy Walker, Illinois Voices Systems Change Activist.  You’re On Board was developed by the Illinois Voices Project Team with support from the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) © 2007.  Check it out at You’re On Board!


Robert’s Rules of Order is standard set of rules to run orderly meetings with maximum fairness to all members.  Check out an easier to understand version at Roberts Rules of Order.


Do you receive Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services through a Developmental Disability Waiver? Learn about your rights! Check out the accessible version of It’s My Right – DHS Rights – Accessible Version – June 2017.  It was developed with input from self-advocates in Illinois and support from The Alliance. The Accessible Version is meant to support greater understanding and advocacy of the rights of individuals receiving services in the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Developmental Disability Waivers programs.  


Have an issue/concern you want to change?  Check out Got Time – Advocating for An Issue or Concern (c) 2018 for ideas of what you and your self-advocacy group can do to share your message and make changes!


Use this checklist to see how “healthy” your self-advocacy group is! Alliance Top Ten List for Healthy Self-Advocacy Groups


This Culture of Self-Advocacy Checklist can be used individually or as a self-advocacy group to find out any gaps in self-advocate involvement and make a plan of improvement.  Areas on the checklist include Skills Training; Day to Day Working Life; Staff; Staffing Meetings and Service Plans; Self-Advocates and Their Lives in the Community; and An Agency that Supports Personal Power.  Culture of Self-Advocacy Checklist


Want to learn more about speaking in front of groups?  Check out the Speaking In Front of Groups resource that shares how to: Be Prepared; Your Image: Looking and Sounding Good; How to Get Your Audience to Listen; and What is Your Message?  


The SABE My Technology Handbook answers questions that most of us who are new or just learning about technology ask.  This Handbook uses easy to understand directions and step by step pictures to teach these skills. Remember it was written by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.  You can learn how to find the right computer, tablet, smart phone, apps and programs that will work best for you. Also, you can learn how to stay safe when using the computer, security options and how to use the internet.  Then we have social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Skype) BloggingVlogging, Conference Calls, GoToMeeting and Webinars.  


The Alliance is a partner on the Illinois Imagines grant.  Illinois Imagines is a statewide project to improve services to people with disabilities who have been victims of sexual violence. The project is directed by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois rape crisis centers, disability service agencies and self-advocates. Collaborative teams have been established in 30 communities across the state.  Visit Illinois Imagines to find lots of information including toolkits and training materials, resources, recorded webinars, and more!


The Alliance is a partner on the Envision Illinois grant, helping to transform services in Illinois into a survivor-centered, seamless, responsive and sustainable system that fully meets the needs of Deaf people and people with disabilities who are survivors of domestic violence.  The two brochures, I Can Be Safe, and Am I Safe?, were developed to help Deaf people and people with disabilities plan for their safety.  Check them out at I Can Be Safe Brochure and Am I Safe?


Check out the Employment & Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Recommendations Report that was just released on 2.1.18!  EEOPD Recommendations Report – 2017


What is #EmployUsIllinois?  Employment for persons with disabilities is essential to keeping your community connected. Having a paid job gives them a sense of purpose and meaning, a way to support themselves, and like anyone — the opportunity to pursue dreams. This campaign and the contents of this social media toolkit are designed to bring more attention to the importance of meaningful employment for persons with disabilities in Illinois. Many employers have embraced and changed hiring practices. This campaign is meant to also highlight those companies who have taken the chance and made a change, regardless of the important laws and legislation. They are finding a seat at the table for individuals with disabilities and have recognized the positive impact it has on employee morale and business itself.  #EmployUsIllinois Social Media Toolkit 6-22-2019


For Advisors Only Webinars  Are you an advisor?  Do you support a self-advocacy group?  Check out the these recorded webinars:


For Advisors Only: REFRESH Your Knowledge, recorded live on 4.11.19.  Join with Alliance advisors as we journey through the history, mission, vision of The Alliance along with the goals of the grant.  We’ll refresh our knowledge of member groups and membership levels as well as gather ideas on how best to share information in effective ways.  


For Advisors Only: REFRESH Your Skills, recorded live on 5.9.19.   Learn with and from other Alliance advisors as you REFRESH your advisor skills of knowing your responsibilities, using people first language, balance, listening, asking who/what/when/where questions, and much more! 


For Alliance Advisors Only: REFRESH Your Commitment, recorded live on 8.8.19.  Continuing on our REFRESH journey, join Alliance advisors as we welcome new member groups, learn about a new feature to the monthly newsletter as well as upcoming challenge opportunities, and explore ways to make changes in the culture of self-advocacy. 

Other Resources


Contact your local legislators and tell them you think is important for people with disabilities.  Find your elected officials at


If you would like to review current legislation or learn more about the Illinois General Assembly, this site will help.


Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act


Become more disability aware of customer service and employment


Learn about Social Capital and how to use it to enhance opportunities for people with disabilities


Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities


Disability Beat


State of Illinois Developmental Disabilities


Access Living Youth Center


(SABE) Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered


The Riot!


The Family Support Network


The ARC of Illinois


Vote Smart


Illinois Voices Resources 


* Illinois Voices is citizens coming together and speaking out as one for social justice.


* Illinois Voices is making changes in agencies that serve people with developmental disabilities, to make them more inclusive and supportive of the people they serve.


 * Illinois Voices is fighting for progressive changes to the service system.


 * Illinois Voices is working to get something new in your life if you have a developmental disability.


 * Most of all, Illinois Voices is changing attitudes and changing lives…


Through a grant funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Voices helped thousands of people accomplish all of the goals listed above and more. Its vision was not only to teach self-advocacy skills to people with developmental disabilities and those who support them, but to have their self-advocacy efforts result in real change. Because of Illinois Voices, many people finally found the courage to speak up for what they want and need. They found the resources and tools they need to make the positive changes they desire. Most importantly, they found a new and revolutionary perspective on their roles as people with developmental disabilities and the staff who support them, which is this:


 Even though all people are created equal, all people also have equal power to make changes.


Even though the Illinois Voices grant ended in 2011, the resources and tools continue to provide support in self-advocacy skills.  Check out the resources below!


Illinois Voices – My Life, My Meeting


Illinois Voices – During My Meeting Choices


Illinois Voices – End of Life Choices


Illinois Voices – Staff Evaluation Pictorial Resource


Illinois Voices – Internal Communication Accessibility Survey


Illinois Voices – Internal Attitudinal Accessibility Survey


Lighting the Way ~ Heroes with Disabilities




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