Disability Advocacy Certificate Program

About the AAPD Disability Advocacy Certificate Program

The AAPD Disability Advocacy Certificate Program was established in 2018. While participants complete their internship Monday to Thursday from 9-to-5, they participate in a Disability Advocacy Certificate Program course on Fridays. The Certificate Program prepares participants to be knowledgeable and effective advocates for the disability community.

During the course, participants have the opportunity to become familiar with the history of the disability rights movement and current pressing issues in the disability community through a variety of topics such as disability legislation, healthcare, employment, and more.

For 2021, AAPD offered the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program virtually. We also offered the Disability Policy Certificate Program for participants of the 2020 program who returned for a second summer with AAPD in order to complete the Summer Internship Program due to the COVID-19 pandemic For both courses in 2021, AAPD partnered with American University so interns could take the course for 3-credits and transfer them to their home university if desired.

The AAPD Disability Advocacy Certificate Program is currently only available for people who are participating in the AAPD Summer Internship Program.

2021 Disability Advocacy Certificate Program Goal

By the end of the course, interns were empowered with knowledge and strategies to advocate for the disability community in their home school, their community, home state, and nationally.

2021 Disability Advocacy Certificate Program Objectives

Interns that participated in the Advocacy Certificate Program:

  1. Identified strategies on how to advocate for their community on the local, state, and national level
  2. Communicated their story on issues across multiple mediums (e.g. social media, blog posts, policy memos, Hill visits, presentations)
  3. Communicated their story to different audiences
  4. Described how different legislations impact the disability community on variety of different levels
  5. Understood their role and responsibility in the collective disability rights movement

2021 Disability Advocacy Certificate Program Assignments 

While attending weekly classes, interns completed several assignments to apply and process what they learned with an emphasis on advocacy through storytelling. These assignments included government elected official visits, policy memos, blogs about their visits, Portrait of Empowerments, and the final group advocacy project. Below are submissions to a few of those assignments. 

The submissions are not representative of AAPD as an organization. The submissions showcase the interns’ learning, opinions, and research from the summer.

Elected Official Visits

In order to provide an activity where interns could practice advocating for disability issues to different audiences, interns identified an issue or legislation impacting people with disabilities and an elected official who could respond to their concerns. Interns met with elected officials on the local, state, and national levels.

Policy Memo 

Interns applied their learning about policy advocacy through storytelling and communication by writing a policy memo on an issue or legislation of their choice. It was an opportunity to practice a clear and concise way to convey their research and information about a particular issue or legislation to their elected official.

Blog Post 

Interns wrote blog posts about their experience visiting with their representatives and the issue they discussed. Since some interns were not able to schedule meetings, they wrote about their challenges with the scheduling process or what they hoped to discuss in their meetings. 

Final Projects

For their final project, interns collaborated in groups on advocacy plans to address an issue impacting the disability community. The advocacy plans included the history of the issue, action steps, materials related to their action steps, and a launch plan. During the last week of class, the intern groups presented their plans to a wide audience including AAPD staff and Board Members, sponsors, mentors, and internship supervisors. 

2021 Disability Policy Certificate Program Goal

By the end of the course, interns understood the policymaking process and developed strategies in order to promote disability rights through policy change.

2021 Disability Policy Certificate Program Objectives

Interns that participated in the Disability Policy Certificate Program:

  1.  Understood and critically examined fundamental concepts of the public policy process
    a) Explained how a bill is made into a law
    b) Provided historical context behind a legislation
    c) Understood policy implementation and impact, including data and budget
    d) Supported or opposed a policy with evidence
    e) Proposed policy recommendations
  2. Learned and applied strategies and tools to influence policy making, including how to build a coalition
  3. Analyzed public policies with a disability lens

2021 Disability Policy Certificate Program Assignments

 

Interns who took part in the Disability Policy Certificate Program completed several assignments including the Portraits of Empowerment, current event presentations, op-eds, and final group policy analysis presentations. Below are a few of those assignments. The submissions are not representative of AAPD as an organization. The submissions showcase the interns’ learning, opinions, and research from the summer.

The submissions are not representative of AAPD as an organization. The submissions showcase the interns’ learning, opinions, and research from the summer.

Op-Eds

The interns practiced developing and communicating arguments about issues impacting the disability community by writing an Op-Ed. The prompt was open to any disability issue if they could make a compelling argument to take action to an audience of their choosing. Interns were encouraged to submit their Op-Eds to different publications. 

Final Project

Having refined their policy analysis skills throughout the course, the interns worked in groups to analyze and present a current or past policy that impacts the disability community. The analysis included the history of the bill, identifying the support and opposition of the legislation, coalitions involved, the policy impact including data, population, and budget, and policy recommendations. The intern groups presented their analyses to a wide audience including AAPD staff and Board Members, sponsors, mentors, and internship supervisors. 

Portraits of Empowerments

Both the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program and the Disability Policy Certificate Program cohorts practiced utilizing social media for advocacy in the Portraits of Empowerment assignment. Interns developed their stories in a compelling way for social media platforms by creating accessible materials and drafting posts that answered prompts such as: “When did you first learn about advocacy?” or “Share your story about what the Americans with Disabilities Act means to you.” and “Describe a time when you noticed the impact of policy on your life directly.” and “What is a policy (current or not yet existing) you would like to see enacted in your lifetime?”  All of these posts were shared on AAPD’s social media as well as our website.

Support for the 2021 Summer Internship Program is provided by:

  • Aid Association for the Blind of District of Columbia
  • Arconic Foundation
  • AT&T
  • Microsoft
  • Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • The Coca-Cola Foundation

Thank you to all of our sponsors who ensured that our selected interns still had a meaningful opportunity during the 2021 summer.

In 2020, AAPD hosted the Disability Advocacy Program virtually. Learn more about the 2020 participants and read their Portraits of Empowerment:

Our Sponsors