Become a Self-Advocate

If you know your rights, you will be able to approach school, work and ultimately, life with great confidence.

Your rights at school

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 provides special education and related services for people with disabilities up to their 22nd birthday. The IDEA provides for a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for eligible students.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (PL 93-112) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It guarantees that people with disabilities have equal access to programs and services that receive federal funds. This includes public and private schools and colleges.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects people with disabilities from discrimination in public, and privately operated settings. The law applies to all public and most private schools and colleges, testing institutions, and licensing authorities. It also applies to state and local governments.

Your instructors’ responsibilities

  • Provide you with reasonable accommodations
  • Implement your request within a reasonable amount of time
  • Treat you and give you the same opportunities as other classmates

Your responsibilities

  • Tell your instructor you are dyslexic
  • Show proper documentation of your specific learning disability
  • Ask for reasonable accommodations that will help you succeed
  • Give your instructor reasonable time to implement your requests

Your rights at work

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (PL 93-112) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It guarantees that people with disabilities have equal access to programs and services that receive federal funds. This applies to employers receiving federal funds.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment, public, and privately operated settings. The law applies to state and local governments and to private employers with 15 or more employees.

Your employers responsibilities

  • Provide you with reasonable accommodations
  • Implement your request within a reasonable amount of time
  • Treat you and give you the same opportunities as other employees in the same position in your workplace

Your responsibilities

  • Tell your employer you are dyslexic
  • Show proper documentation of your specific learning disability
  • Ask for reasonable accommodations that will help you at work
  • Give your employer reasonable time to implement your requests

Four steps to becoming a self advocate

  1. Learn about dyslexia. Know it well enough to explain it to others. Take action: Learn the facts about dyslexia and watch Headstrong: Inside the Hidden World of Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder.
  2. Get officially tested. Documenting your disability will not only give you access to your rights, but will also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take action: Get tested.
  3. Identify the tools you need to succeed. Text to Speech software and other tools can help you in school and at work. Integrate these technologies into your life. Take action: Get equipped.
  4. Tell your friends, family, instructors and employers you are dyslexic. Be honest with your friends and family and take advantage of your rights at school and work. Take action: Speak out.