Partners in Policymaking
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Curriculum Highlights

Strategies for System Change


  • Participants will create a vision for the year 2020 (and beyond) for people with disabilities.
  • Participants will understand how a bill becomes a law at the state and federal levels.
  • Participants will be able to identify critical federal issues and the process by which they can personally address their concerns.
  • Participants will be able to demonstrate successful techniques for advocating for services to meet the needs of unserved and underserved individuals.
  • Participants will draft and deliver testimony for legislative hearings.
  • Participants will learn how to meet a public official and express concerns.
  • Participants will be able to identify strategies for beginning and sustaining grassroots level organizing.
  • Participants will understand the role of when and how to use the media to effectively promote their issues.
  • Participants will be able to demonstrate proper procedures for conducting a meeting.

Why This Topic Is Important

Most of the Partners in Policymaking curriculum focuses on the “what” of change—changes in policies and actions, and values and attitudes that are necessary if people with developmental disabilities are to enjoy a good life as participating, contributing, and valued members of the community.

This topic focuses on the “how” of change: basic skills, actions and strategies that can be used to influence professionals, policymakers, and politicians.

The problem, of course, is that there is no magic formula for successful change-making. Sometimes you don't know what worked until you've succeeded. And it's not enough to complain or even to be right. Successful change-making requires creativity, tenacity, focus, vision, determination, and the ability to negotiate and persuade. The issues, concerns, and strategies discussed here have been identified as important considerations among effective policymakers.


It’s critically important that you:

This process of planning for change is similar to developing an individual plan:

Concept Highlights

People with disabilities, families, and allies need to be a part of the change process. We need to:

  • Know what’s possible.
  • Define the issues.
  • Develop a vision.
  • Work together.
  • Involve elected officials.
  • Clearly communicate with policymakers about what needs to be done, what’s possible, and what’s right and what’s wrong.
  • Involve the media.
  • Know what advocacy organizations exist and if they would be helpful allies.
  • Know how to run meetings.
  • Learn how to organize.
  • Be creative.
  • Be persistent.
  • Generate win/win outcomes!

Review of Issue/Action Planning/Organizing

Here are some considerations for developing a strategic plan:


Click here to view a copy of the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart.
It can be used to help you choose your issues and develop your strategies.

Good luck!