Photograph of people at a rally holding signs "no more cuts" and "don't cut my friends" and more

Throughout history advocacy has transformed the way that people with disabilities are regarded and supported.  

The laws and policies that protect the rights of people with disabilities, and the services that support their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, exist today because individuals, families, and others have spoken out and taken action to ensure that all people have equal opportunities to achieve their goals as valued members of society.

The disability system has evolved over time to better serve the people we support and their families because advocates have voiced their needs, ideas, and concerns to influence the development and delivery of services. Disability policies, laws and service models continue to change in response to new financial, political, and social realities. The need to advocate has never been greater. 

Join us in advocating to sustain the progress we have made as a field, and to continue to protect the rights and the services that are important to all of us. 

Policy Briefs

Learn about current federal policies that affect people with disabilities and their families and how you can take action from the Association of University Centers on DisabilitiesWeekly briefs provide short, straightforward policy summaries and updates on what's happening now. 

Advocacy Toolkit

Learn how to communicate with government officials to effectively advocate for the policies and programs that are important to you by checking out the American Network of Community Options and Resources' Advocacy Toolkit.

Contact Lawmakers

Reach out to your elected officials at the federal, state and local level at any time so they can get to know you and understand why it is important to protect services people you care about. Start by finding your representatives: 


The most powerful advocates are those who are passionate about an issue, and often people who understand it from personal experience.

People who participate in YAI Network programs advocate in a variety of ways throughout the year to raise awareness about issues that are important to them.

YAI Network self-advocates speak with government officials in support of policies and programs that support people with disabilities, help spread the word to end the “r-word”, partner with the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, educate staff about their needs and rights, and participate on various committees and boards to guide agency activities.

Self-advocacy groups are active throughout our network in Long Island, New York City and Westchester, with new groups developing in New Jersey and Rockland County.

Learn more about the activities, histories and priorities of these groups by visiting the YAI Self Advocates In-Action Newsletter page.

Advocacy efforts over the years have impacted many aspects around I/DD supports, services and law. Not least how supports, trainings and language are now much more person centered. Learn more about what "person centered" means in this short video: