When STARS was founded in 1973, we were in a transitional period in the history of developmental disabilities. The era of institutionalization was coming to a close and we were witnessing the rise of the “independent living movement”.

The “independent living movement” was a strong push against institutionalization and against over-dependence on parents and professionals. Essentially, this movement questioned the lack of autonomy and self-determination that most individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities experienced. This took the conversation to a deeper level than was seen in the “disability rights movement” of the 1960’s which was primarily focused on attaining equal civil rights for individuals with disabilities.

The “independent living movement” is what inspires STARS’ mission to improve the lives of individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities.

We believe that people with disabilities are the best experts on their own needs, and therefore our participants are the best people to tell us how to improve our programs and services. We believe people with disabilities can and should lead new social movements, generate new solutions for their community as well as organize for political power.

With these beliefs in mind, we have listed resources below to enable you to access political power and advocate for yourself, your loved one, family member or community. Please contact Gina Griffiths, STARS’ Director of Programs, to learn more about current local political issues and how they affect our community of individuals with disabilities.

1. Utilize Self-Advocacy Resource Centers

Click here to learn about ABILITY360 self advocacy trainings! Also, get involved in the ABILITY360 community of advocates. Learn about the power of language and labels. Register for email updates from ABILITY360 on public policy concerning the community of disability advocates.

Check out Arizona Center for Disability Law’s self-advocacy guides for the ADA, Assistive Technology, DDD, Employment, Housing and more!

2. Register To Vote

Go to ADOT Service Arizona to register to vote or update your information. Watch this video “Why Vote” by the Arizona Center for Disability Law Channel.

3. Know Your Federal Representatives & Issues

Click here to find out who your Congressional representatives are. Click here to get alerts for subject areas or keywords to track important bills through Congress. Contact the White House directly.

4. Learn About Local Issues

Register for weekly updates on bills related to developmental disability issues from the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

Read the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Title 36, Chapter 5.1 governing the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Then, read the rules that govern the DDD which clarify how the statues are implemented in more practical terms.

Read about new state standards, legislator votes on key education bills or find out how to join a school board from the Arizona School Boards Association.

5. Participate In State and Local Government

Click here to find out who your State representatives are and how to contact them. Make sure to sign up for the “Request to Speak” system to comment on bills from home or check the status of a bill. Visit the legislature and make your voice heard!

On Tuesday, January 26, 2017 family members and providers testified in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Welfare in regards to funding issues faced by the community. To view video of the meeting and their testimony Click Here.

6. Write An Op-Ed Or Letter To The Editor

Opinion Editorials and Letters to the Editor can be powerful tools of advocacy. Most papers now have online versions which only serves to amplify your message. Cultivating relationships with columnists is also a good strategy to prioritize your concerns in the media. Some popular local papers in the Phoenix Metro area are the Arizona RepublicPhoenix New Times and East Valley Tribune.

6. Know What Resources Are Available

Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities

Arizona Center for Disability Law

Office for Civil Rights

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Office of Special Education Programs

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