Advocacy is a big part of what we do at Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC). Advocacy is simply supporting or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, a policy or on behalf of another person or ourselves. Our advocacy efforts fall into two main categories: Individual Advocacy and Systems Change Advocacy.

Individual Advocacy

Our advocates assist people with disabilities to assert their civil and human rights, and in obtaining needed services and supports. Our advocates provide assistance in determining eligibility for and obtaining benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Our advocates can help people address violations of our civil rights by addressing the issues directly with the people or agencies violating their rights to educate all parties about respecting disability rights, or we can help individuals assert their rights by filing complaints with appropriate authorities. We provide people with the tools they need to become better self-advocates.

Systems Change Advocacy

TILRC strives to help make the world a better place to live for all people with disabilities. Whenever TILRC works with other organizations and people to effect positive change in laws, government programs and policies or business practices, that is called Systems Change Advocacy. We are involved in Systems Change Advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels. Systems Change Advocacy can involve testimony before government bodies, public education campaigns, input into the policies that impact our lives as people with disabilities, and sometimes it may mean “taking it to the streets” in the form of non-violent protest.