dictionary.com defines advocacy as “to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly: to act as an advocate.”
Advocating is not just for after the problem. It can also mean carrying on a continuing discussion about a topic or potential issue. Advocating for yourself and others isn’t always easy. Some days this means politely voicing your opinion about the treatment you have received. Other times, you might have to fill out a survey or write an email to a company. And yet other times, you may need to get involved with local lawmakers to have them address an issue.
Who do you report an issue to?
Depending on the situation, you can speak to a supervisor/manager or you can find a place to write comments and concerns. One way our family did this was when we had an issue at our local baseball park. We had always been allowed to use the turnstile when we came into the ballpark with mom’s guide dog. One day, we were forced to use the handicap entry. I was so upset that I sent an email using their comment section about our experience. As a result, we became one of the founding members of their ADA committee.
How do I know I am talking to the right person?
One way to know if you have the right person is by their title. You are looking for a store/restaurant manager or customer service manager. Remember when you are writing your complaint, you need to make sure to give clear details. Also offer ways that you would like future issues like this to be handled. My family is willing to offer online resources or go in person to help with training staff. There is always a learning opportunity available to both parties. Sometimes it is just a misunderstanding and sometimes the parties were both wrong in their response.
Advocating takes time to learn how to do, but it will change your life and the life of those you meet. We can make things happen by making people aware of our needs.
About the author: DJ McIntyre is a mother of two and the daughter to a blind mother. She runs a support page for other children of blind parents, volunteers locally with her lions’ Club, the Georgia Council of the Blind, and her local church. She has helped out with several ACB conventions.