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Advocates in Action: Who We Are

Advocates in Action Rhode Island is an independent non-profit Statewide Self-Advocacy organization. Our mission is to empower people who have a developmental disability to advocate for themselves and others, to support and strengthen the Self‐Advocacy movement and to raise awareness about disability issues in the community. We strive to help people become educated about their options, aware of available resources, able to make informed decisions, in control of their own lives, and involved within the community.

Some of the work we do to support our mission include:

  • Rhode Island's Annual Statewide Self-Advocacy conference: We have been hosting this since 1995 and the number of attendees has increased over the years. The average attendance is 400-450 people. The 2015 conference, which is scheduled for Thursday, October 29th, marks our 20th Anniversary of supporting Self-Advocacy in our state! Mark your calendars now!

  • The Leadership Series: We coordinate a year-long Leadership Series training for individuals who have a developmental disability, families and support staff. Class members learn how to become leaders, both in their own lives and in society. They have the opportunity to put these new skills to use as the hosts for Rhode Island's Annual Statewide Self-Advocacy meeting which takes place each Spring.

  • Employment Initiatives: Advocates in Action is proud to represent the voice of individuals who receive DD services as a member of the Employment First Task Force. The EFTF is a group of many different stakeholders who are a part of the RI system of day services for adults who have an intellectual/developmental disability and student who are in transition. It was as established as one of the requirements that RI agreed to when it signed a Consent Decree with the Department of Justice in 2014. Click here to learn about the Consent Decree.
  • You can also find out more by visiting This site was created by Gina Macris. Gina is a a retired Providence Journal, and also the mother or a son who receives DD services. We have found the site to be an amazing resource. We hope you do, too!

    At Advocates in Action RI, we believe that everyone who wants to work should be able to pursue that goal. Having a disability SHOULD NOT stop you, and the DD Service system SHOULD help you! We are committed to sharing this message with individuals, families and the RI community as we work together to promote employment for people who have an intellectual/developmental disability. Let's get to work!

  • Rhode Island's Statewide Self-Advocacy Meeting. We host this annual event and support members of our Leadership Series to organize and facilitate the Meeting. It's their opportunity to practice the skills they've learned in class, while teaching others about a specific topic. The meeting takes place each spring. The number of attendees has grown over the years. Approximately 350 people attend the annual event.
  • "This is Us": We began this disability awareness program in 1998. Since then, we have shared it with thousands of students in grades K-12, colleges and universities, as well as bringing it to support agencies to help train new staff members. Click here to download an information flyer and find out how to invite This is Us to your school!

  • Accessible Materials: We design and adapt materials in a variety of formats to help people understand issues related to Self-Advocacy. Information is POWER, but you need to be able to understand it if you're going to use it. By making material accessible, we are working towards our mission of empowering so they can advocate for themselves.

  • Local Self-Advocacy Groups: We support local Self-Advocacy groups by sharing materials and event information, connecting groups around the state, offering advice and guidance to local members and their advisors, and providing speakers to share at meetings.

  • Individual Stories: We help individuals to capture their stories in a variety of formats including photos, multimedia, "About Me Boxes" and more. There is a lot of POWER in a personal story! By helping people who have a developmental disability to share their own story, we are empoweing people, while working towards our mission of raising disability awareness in the community.

  • Resource Sharing: We offer many training and resource materials for the community on our website. Many of these materials are also available on disc in a variety of formats, including pdf, powerpoint, audio and video files. Click here to contact us if you are looking for information on a specific topic.

  • Independent Filmmaking: We work on a variety of different projects each year that are in line with our mission. We are currently in the production stages of the documentary film "Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons".

    Best Judgment will tell the story of the Joseph H. Ladd Center, Rhode Island's former institution for people with developmental disabilities. Unlike traditional documentaries, we believe that Best Judgment will be unique because it is being produced by a Self-Advocacy organization. We are thrilled to be working with academy award nominated documentary film producer Jim Wolpaw, along with the award winning Harken Productions on this project. More importantly, we are also working with, and being guided by former, Ladd school residents, along with individuals who might be in the institution if it were still open today.

  • Film Crew: The AinARI Film Crew is a team of Self-Advocates and filmmaking professionals who are working together to teach each other and learn. While the Self-Advocates involved teach others the finer points of Self-Advocacy, the filmmaking professionals share their knowledge about topics that include camera and audio techniques, lighting, interview skills, and more. The Crew is currently involved in the production of Best Judgment, after which we plan to work on a film catalog that includes personal stories of success from Self-Advocates, family members and allies. Our goal is to archive this footage in the Library of Congress. We also plan to make our catalog available to public libraries, as well as educational establishments and other interested parties around the country and across the globe.

  • RIde the Wave 2000: In 2000 we hosted the National Self-Advocacy conference with the support of agencies from around Rhode Island and our partners at PAL. RIDE the Wave was also the bi-annual meeting for the national organization Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). More than 1,200 attended!

  • NEAT: in 1998 we worked with our peers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont to form a coalition of State Self-Advocacy organizations called North East Advocates Together. NEAT is an amazing resource of shared information from the Self-Advocacy events, activities and ideas in each of our states. In 2013, NEAT states collaborated and were awarded a grant from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Click here to learn about NEAT Peer to Peer Self-Advocacy Connections and how Self-Advocacy is growing person by person and strength by strength.
  • Community Building Events: We host several community building events each year. Our average attendance is 200 people. In addition to having a good time together, these events also provide people the opportunity to connect and network, while raising disability awareness in the community. The events include:


CLICK HERE to download a 1 page flyer that describes what "Self-Advocacy" is all about.

This Page was updated on:
May 2, 2018