Self-advocacy skills training for adolescents with physical disabilities

Shelly Beth Levy, Pace University


Theoretical and research models of disability traditionally focus on effects on personality development and interpersonal disturbances. An alternative model analyzes the social and political implications of disability and recommends modification of the environment as the intervention of choice. Strengthening competence to effect environmental changes may be accomplished through self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is comprised of a set of skills as well as a knowledge base about civil rights legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a formative evaluation this project investigated the process involved in providing a self-advocacy skills group to adolescents with physical disabilities. The goals of this group were to increase knowledge of disability rights and legislation, to increase skills needed to secure these rights, and provide a means of social support. The group was conducted as part of a weekend recreation and socialization program for adolescents who have disabilities. Data was collected through a log recording the investigator's observations during weekly self-advocacy group meetings, participant rating scales, and semi-structured interviews. Qualitative evaluation was conducted to identify themes and categories which emerged from the data and were related to the research questions. Participants' levels of satisfaction, and strengths and needs of the group in meeting its objectives were assessed. Data can be utilized to develop and evaluate future groups. Concerns with attitudinal barriers and social accessibility emerged as salient issues for participants in this group. Social support appeared beneficial to group members. Inconsistent attendance limited the implementation of structured skills training. Entry problems and site negotiation were reviewed as part of this project. Implications for future self-advocacy training groups are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Cellular biology|Behaviorial sciences|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Levy, Shelly Beth, "Self-advocacy skills training for adolescents with physical disabilities" (1996). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9626327.



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