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Self Advocacy

In college, you are responsible for getting the help you need. You must be able to advocate for yourself.

Advocates are persons who know what they want and will stand up for their rights. Making each of the following a habit will help you to be a good self-advocate and a successful student.

Know Yourself and Your Disability

Before you can advocate for yourself, you need to identify your:

  • Strengths - the skills you do well right now
  • Areas to improve - the skills you need to improve that will help you realize success
  • Interests - the career areas you may want to explore
  • Preferences - the ways you like to learn and the ways you learn best
  • Disability - you will need to talk about your disability in a way that other people will understand. Answering these questions will help:
    • What is my disability?
    • How does it impact my learning?
    • Do I have official documentation or paper work that explains what my disability is?
    • What accommodations in the past have been helpful to me or what do I think could help me now?
    • Does the college or school have my documentation so that I can get the accommodations that will help me succeed?

Know your Rights and Responsibilities

Colleges cannot close their doors to you because you have a disability. A school must provide services that will allow you an equal opportunity to succeed in school.

The UAS Disability Services Rights and Responsibilities page has more information about your rights and responsibilities. It includes links to the UAS Student Code of Conduct, which states the expectations the university has for any student. The Disability Services Policies and Procedures page lists important federal laws and the University of Alaska Board of Regents policy regarding rights for students with disabilities (R09.06.05).

Know Where to Go for Help

A very important part of being a successful student is having the ability to know when you need help or when you don't. At the University of Alaska Southeast, a great place to start is with the Student Resource Center (SRC). Staff and Peer Advisors are available to help you when you need help. You can call 907-796-6000, e-mail, or visit the bottom floor of the Mourant Building on the Juneau Campus.

Know When to Take Action

Once you know who you are and what you need, you can work on reaching your goals. You should also work on communicating your needs. This means that you should practice talking with your instructors. You might practice on a counselor or a trusted friend. Practice explaining your disability and the accommodations or modifications you will need to help you be successful. Realize that you will not be the first student to ever talk with the DS staff and other faculty about disabilities. Talking to these individuals might seem scary now, but as you become more aware of who you are, you will gain confidence.


The majority of content on this webpage was provided by the brochure "Self-Advocacy: Steps you can take to help you be a successful student," published by the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. The brochure was developed by Sean Lancaster and Daryl Mellard at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, Division of Adult Studies in May 2000. It was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.