Advocating Change Together, Inc.
Advocating Change Together (ACT) was organized in 1979 by people with and without disabilities in response to the growing concern that individuals with developmental disabilities were being isolated and excluded from decisions regarding the well being of their lives. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, ACT works within the seven-county metro area, in greater Minnesota, and participates on the national level in the self-advocacy movement. All 15 board members are people with disabilities. Since 1979, ACT has been successful in developing the self-advocacy skills of persons with disabilities because of a commitment to one basic premise: It is not the individual that must transform to “fit” society, but rather, society and systems that must change. To this goal, ACT works at both ends of the stream, providing information and skill training to individuals with disabilities, and challenging commonly held attitudes toward disability, which limit full inclusion in our society.
As a grassroots organization, ACT has effectively organized individuals with disabilities around issues of discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and transportation, and has worked in collaboration with other social change organizations on issues of tax reform, poverty, and the closing of state institutions. ACT members assisted in the writing and implementation of Minnesota’s Rule 40, which prohibits the use of aversive and deprivation techniques in group homes and institutions. Because of its devoted membership, large base of volunteers, and national collaborations, ACT has been able to effectively identify and pursue issues of common concern to persons with disabilities.
ACT’s mission is to empower people with developmental and other disabilities to speak for themselves and take control of their lives. ACT is a grassroots, member-controlled organization. Our purpose is to:
1. Educate people with disabilities on their right to speak for themselves. 2. Be an accepting place for people with disabilities where they can build the necessary skills to advocate for themselves and for others. 3. Reduce prejudice by making the public aware that people with disabilities have a broad range of abilities. 4. Improve the quality of life for all people with disabilities in the least restrictive work and living situations.