|your starting point,
your destination, and what you will do
to reach your destination.
The plan will also include a tentative schedule giving you an idea of when
can expect to reach your goal.
of the Plan. To start your advocacy plan, write out a short
statement of the problem. Although this may seem repetitious if
you have followed the problem definition recommendations discussed earlier
in this chapter, writing a statement of the problem in your plan will help
you focus your thinking and it will be a helpful reminder if you get stuck
what you would like to achieve as the ideal solution to your problem
and write it down. The need for good record keeping takes on greater significance
following brain injury. One of the greatest barriers to successful advocacy
is being unclear about what you are trying to accomplish. Impairments caused
by brain injuries compromise your ability to understand and be understood.
If you are unsure of your goal, talk to friends, relatives, professional
advocates and service providers to get ideas. Make notes of such discussion
for later reference, a tape recorder is also handy during such discussions.
about the options available to you. Your goals should be well considered
and well researched. Such precautions will assure that your goals are reasonable
and do-able. Remember, it is impossible to turn back the hands of time,
what is done can not be undone. Consequently, your goals, while based on
past actions, should be forward looking.
it is critical to decide on an ideal solution, it is important to
realize you may not reach this goal. It may necessary to make some compromises.
In other words, you may not get everything you ask for. To prepare yourself
for that possibility, try to see the outcome of your efforts as continuum
ranging from getting everything you want, various combinations of some
of what you want, and including the possibility of getting nothing.
Decide on some compromise solutions
that are acceptable although not ideal. Later, if compromise is reached,
you will still achieve an acceptable solution and the other party will
probably feel that they have accomplished something by causing you to accept
a solution that addresses their needs too. You probably will also be perceived
more favorably if you show a willingness to work out a solution with the
other party than if you insist on only one outcome.
step in developing your advocacy plan is to list all of the information
you need to reach your desired outcome. Divide this list into two sections
-- one labeled "Information I already have"
and the other labeled "Information I need to obtain."
the notes you took and material you collected during the information gathering
stage. List laws, rules, regulations, and policies that support your point
of view and write down references or citations. In addition, list philosophical,
ethical, moral, humanitarian, logical and political reasons for your desired
changes. List any facts that need to be established (e.g., that a handicap
does exist, that you have been abused or neglected). Add to your list any
information that will help show that the change you desire is needed.
Try to put
yourself in the other party's place and attempt to discover how the
changes you want could benefit them, also. Think of as many reasons as
you possibly can and then look back at your list, and decide which are
most likely to be effective in influencing the other party. Discuss your
ideas with friends and family, have them suggest ideas too. Mark the most
effective arguments and plan to use these first, but save the others for
possible use later.
types of information you still need to get and allow opportunities to gather
this information when developing your plan.
about the other party. What are their needs, their priorities? What arguments
do you expect them to make? Write down these arguments on your plan and
then think about what you will say or do in response to these arguments.
Write down ideas on how you will respond.
down a step-by-step plan for how you will approach the other party
and argue your point of view. This could involve a sequence of telephone
calls, a letter and one or more informal meetings, with a follow-up letter
summarizing agreements reached. The method you select will depend on your
You will want to identify the name, telephone number and mailing
address of the person you will be dealing with and perhaps some notes on
where he or she fits into your life. Such a list might identify a: family
member, loved one or friend; human service agency; medical and legal firm;
your employer or school. When the problem involves business, career, or
human services agencies: understanding the chain of command will help identify
further steps you can take if a solution is not reached. When the problem
involves family, friends and loved ones it becomes important to identify
influential parties who could be enlisted as allies.
As you work out your step-by-step action plan, jot down the date
you expect to take each step. These dates will be approximate since you
cannot control the action of the other party but the dates will help you
retain your sense of purpose and direction. Whenever you request something
from the other party such as: a meeting; an appointment; a change in behavior;
a status report on your case or your relationship; specify when you would
like a response to your request. Two weeks is a reasonable time within
which to expect a response to most requests. It is certainly sufficient
time to expect an acknowledgment of your request including a commitment
to respond by a specified alternate date.
Finally, think about what you will do if your plan is not successful. There
are almost always further steps you can take to resolve your problem. Such
a list might include dealing with others further up the chain of command,
and asking for a formal hearing. When such strategies breakdown you might
consider asking for outside help. Another option might include mobilizing
and terminating the relationship.
Working out a detailed advocacy plan is a lot of work but it will help
you be more effective and it will increase your confidence. You will develop
your own short cuts and time savers as you gain experience. At the beginning,
however, we do not recommend trying to proceed without a plan.
Adapted with permission from: "Don't Get Mad
Get Powerful, A Manual for building Advocacy Skills," MI P&A