Iowa Advocacy Connection - 2014 Issue 3

Issue 5, 8/28/2013

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Articles in This Issue:

Conference Keynote Speaker Highlight

The ID Action Self-Advocacy conference has pulled together a series of sessions to help Iowans with disabilities build their leadership and advocacy skills to become more active in their community and state. Here are a few of the sessions. Visit for a full listing of sessions and descriptions.


Keynote:  Making Connections: Building Bridges to Community Life Peter Leidy

Paying attention to a person’s community life is a fundamental part of our work. Many people served in our system are lonely or disconnected. Through real stories this session explores strategies for making connections and building relationships, the barriers to community connecting, and how we can make and keep a commitment to the important work of community building when there are so many other issues that seem urgent.

Let’s Talk Leadership 2 – Alan Feirer

Once leaders embrace the notion of service to their teams and mission, they then work to meet the needs they discover. Through activity and discussion, emerging leaders will learn communication skill basics, along with tools for evaluation and setting direction.

Engaged and Involved: The Key to Making a Difference – Ben Hammes and Linda Langston

Becoming engaged in the community and serving on boards and commissions assists in understanding a community as well as keeping your profile high among a broad group of community members. Take the opportunity to learn more about how to get involved, what to do once you get involved and how to leverage your participation for both personal and professional development.

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Personal Story - Lydia Dawley

Heading into her senior year of high school, Lydia Dawley already knows her plans for the future. She has picked out the college she would like to attend and she knows exactly what she would like to study. These plans are driven by years of experience and a strong understanding of the importance of effective communication.

Lydia has cerebral palsy that affects her ability to speak, but as she says, “it does not affect my sense of humor, lucky for you!” During her preschool years, Lydia was fortunate to have a teacher who saw her abilities first and encouraged her parents to mainstream her education. From that point on, Lydia’s parents worked to teach her that if she wanted to live an independent life she was going to have to advocate for herself.

It didn’t take long for this to catch on, and by kindergarten she had already started. She understood that since her parents were not going to be with her at school she was going to have to speak up for herself…and she did! When Lydia was assigned an aide who didn’t see her abilities, she took matters into her own hands, which lead to a trip to the principal’s office. In the end, Lydia explained to the principal that her needs were not being met by stating, “I have a brain, and I like to use it.” Lydia was quickly placed with a new aide whom she has been with ever since.

Lydia currently works as an ambassador for a company that produced an iPad app called Words for Life. This app, based on the Unity® Language system, allows those who are nonverbal to independently communicate. Lydia has been using the app for about five months and has picked it up quickly; she is currently helping others learn how to use it. Watch Lydia’s video at to see her in action.

This has been an exciting summer for Lydia. Not only is she gearing up for her senior year in high school, but she is currently the Winneshiek County Fair queen. She represented Winneshiek County in the Iowa State Fair queen pageant in August. A lifelong fair goer, Lydia decided to enter the pageant because it provides an opportunity to show people, “You can do anything, and nothing should stop you from doing something you dream about.” She says, “Why should I feel sorry for myself when I can show people that they can do anything?”  Lydia was given the Personality Plus Award.

Lydia plans to attend the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and major in communications. She explains, “I feel people with disabilities and their parents will have hope that they can have their voices heard, and it makes me feel on top of the world that I can change people’s lives.”  Lydia wants everyone to understand, “You shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself. Live your life from your heart and you will be successful.”

To hear from Lydia, visit the ID Action website at

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2014 Election - Getting to Know the Candidates

As each election season rolls around, you probably find yourself wondering where the candidates stand on the issues. ID Action has put together a six-step guide to getting the facts about where the candidates stand on the issues. This information offers some basic suggestions about:

  • How to find out who is running for office.
  • Which elections happen each year and when they take place.
  • How to find out where candidates stand on the issues you care about.

You can use the information to create your own “action plan” for becoming a well-informed voter. To view this guide, please visit or contact ID Action to receive a copy.

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ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference

The ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference is quickly approaching! Register by September 3 to take advantage of several discounted offers.

Early Bird Discount: Register by September 3, 2014, to receive $20 off the rate for individuals with a disability and direct care provider/family member attending with an individual with a disability. If you are a professional, you will receive $25 off the rate.

Group Discount: The ID Action conference is intended to bring Iowans with disabilities together to learn and grow as advocates. If you register with a group of five or more you can take advantage of the group discount and receive your registration fees at half the cost. The mission of this conference is to work towards engaging and organizing your community. This is your opportunity to work together to attend the ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference.

Registrant Type







Individual with a disability




 Direct care provider/family member attending 

with a person with a disability








Find out more information about the ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference and register at

We look forward to seeing you in October!

Register Today!

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12 Steps to Success

In each issue, we continue to share with you steps to become a good self-advocate. Next are steps 11 & 12. To view all 12 Steps to Successful Advocacy, please visit

Step 11: Remember – It’s Not Personal.

  • Listen to your opponents with the same respect and attention you want. Try to understand their position.
  • Keep channels of communication open. Seek compromise and be diplomatic.

Step 12: Don’t Give Up – or Give In.

  • Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be persistent, consistent and patient.
  • Aim for consensus rather than victory. Be willing to settle for making progress.
  • Stay committed – you have a compelling, energizing reason to keep fighting until you accomplish your goal.

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Take your Legislator to Work Campaign

In October, ID Action will be conducting the Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to raiseTake Your Legislator To Work Campaign awareness that every Iowan with a disability should have choices and opportunities to have meaningful employment in the community. Legislators will be in their home districts in October so it’s a perfect time to invite them to your workplace to talk about the importance of having employment opportunities and ongoing support.

 If you are interested in participating in the campaign, have great things to say about your employment and an important message you want to share with your legislator, contact ID Action at

866-432-2846 for more information about participating. You can also go to for more details.

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