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Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services

IPAS > Advocacy > World's Shortest Advocacy Course World's Shortest Advocacy Course

Solve problems at the simplest level. Don’t wait for small issues to mount up and become a large crisis.

Be straightforward and assertive. Keep a positive approach. There are many ways to “skin a cat.” Look for solutions in which everybody wins. This will take creativity and an open mind.

Communicate. Don’t be afraid to say what you think. Never forget to listen to what others are saying. Sometimes writing can be more effective than talking.

Do something. Even if it turns out to be ineffective, it will lead you to another, better approach. Putting off action in order to create the perfect solution can let problems become much more difficult to resolve. Procrastination leads to anxiety and drains energy.

Rights are like muscles. If you don’t exercise them, they atrophy. Just because there is a law describing a right, it does not always hold true that others will automatically respect that right. Often we must claim the right, insisting that it be respected. Otherwise, our right may be ignored, even by the very systems intended to serve us.

Claiming a right might require us to use due process. Due process is an organized way of making an appeal or complaint.

Any program receiving public funding has due process procedures. However, such appeal procedures vary from system to system (e.g., timeliness). Just remember that all systems have methods for appeal and people who work in each system can/should explain these processes.

We can make processes work only if we use them. Litigation is time consuming and costly in terms of money, energy and emotion. It is the “ultimate weapon,” but sometimes nothing else will do.


  • Focus on present possibilities, not past failures
  • Listen to all sides, but keep your own perspective
  • All journeys begin with a single step; just keep walking and you’ll get there
  • Look around and be aware of how much progress you have made


  • Do your homework
  • Understand the facts
  • Document
  • Take training when it is available
  • Gather with others who have the same concerns


  • Don’t take “no” for an answer
  • Keep asking
  • Follow through
  • Use due process if cooperation and negotiation doesn’t resolve an issue