October 19, 2012

Growing, Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate

On March 29, 2012, I started the Partners in Policymaking Program. The Partners in Policymaking Program is a web-based program available through Cornell University. The NYS Partners in Policymaking Program is sponsored by the NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

When I had started the Partners in Policymaking Program I never knew that there was a YAI staff member in the program with me. I was surprised to see Emily Holl in the program.


The Partners in Policymaking Program is for Self-Advocates who want to learn how to be a better self-advocate. It’s also for family members who want to learn more about what individuals with disabilities face. In the Partners in Policymaking Program I learned about disability history, policies, creating communities, inclusion, individualized services, state and legislative issues, systemic advocacy and leadership and system change. I also learned how to be comfortable doing public speaking, especially before a large crowd.

In July, I got a chance to go to Albany with Emily to meet with Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment, who despite being blind since birth was nominated by President Barack Obama.  I told her about issues I’ve experienced, such as difficulties receiving the support I needed, feeling discouraged to advocate for myself, and feeling pressured to share information unrelated to my job search. I felt honored speaking to someone in government who deals with disability employment issues.

On Saturday, October 20, I am going to be graduating from the Partners in Policymaking Program. The ceremony is going to be held at YAI’s Central Office. I will have to speak to the audience in order for me to graduate. If you would like to join the Partners in Policymaking class of 2013 you can go to

Tags: Advocacy; Education; Person Centered; Employment; Independant Living; Legislation