What is Advocacy?

Advocacy seeks to ensure people are able to have their voice heard and to defend and safeguard their rights. Advocacy enables people to express their views and concerns, access information and services, defend and promote their rights, and explore choices and options.

What does an advocate do?

An advocate may help:

  • Access information you need

  • Go to a meeting with you in a supportive role

  • Write documents on your behalf

  • Speak for you in situations where you don’t feel comfortable speaking for yourself

Who can be an advocate?

Anyone! An advocate is someone who provides advocacy support when you need it.

Knowing Your Rights

Health Care

It can be hard to know what rights you and your children have as patients. But remember, every patient is entitled to basic rights and responsibilities! Most Ohio hospitals outline what patients’ rights they safeguard and what responsibilities patients have. Links to some of the larger Ohio hospital systems are provided here.

Here are a few common examples.

Patients’ Rights:

  • To be fully informed

  • To receive considerate and respectful care

  • To have your personal dignity respected

  • To receive care regardless of your age, race, color, national origin, culture, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, religion, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or manner of payment

Patients’ Responsibilities

  • Providing, to the best of your knowledge, accurate and complete information about matters relating to his/her health

  • To speak up! Communicate your concerns to any employee as soon as possible

  • Asking questions when you do not understand information

Special Education

Parents and children have rights in special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Ohio Department of Education has a Guide to Parent Rights in Special Education. The Red Treehouse guide, Special Education 101 also includes an overview of legislation and parent rights and responsibilities. Goodwin Procter has made a guide summarizing what an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is and what rights children are entitled to.

Here are some of the rights parents are entitled to:

  • Informed parental consent for the school district to take an action

  • Ability to withdraw consent if you no longer want your child to receive special education services offered in your child’s IEP

  • Written notice if the school proposes or refuses to take certain actions

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents the right to inspect and review your child’s education records

Here are some of the rights students are entitled to under IDEA:

  • Free and appropriate public education that meets their unique needs

  • Experience the least restrictive environment, where the student would have the greatest possibility to interact with children who do not have a disability

  • Remedies when the student or parent disagrees with the school’s IEP for the student, which can be found in Sections V and VI of the Goodwin Procter Guide.

Advocacy Resources

This guide was developed as part of a project made possible by a Grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.  The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Lead researcher/author: Jack Maib, J.D. Candidate, 2019, Legal Intern