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The Perceptions and Goals of Special Education Advocacy Trainees

Authors
  • Goldman, Samantha E.1
  • Burke, Meghan M.2
  • Mello, Maria P.3
  • 1 Assumption College, Department of Education, 500 Salisbury St, Worcester, MA, 01609, USA , Worcester (United States)
  • 2 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Special Education, Champaign, IL, USA , Champaign (United States)
  • 3 St. John’s University, Department of Education Specialties, Queens, NY, USA , Queens (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Dec 19, 2018
Volume
31
Issue
3
Pages
377–397
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10882-018-9649-2
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

Although the field of special education advocacy is growing, little is known about the perceptions and goals of individuals who participate in advocacy trainings. It is important to understand why individuals want advocacy training to design more effective programs and determine whether training meets participant expectations. In this study, we evaluated the perceptions of 142 participants who completed the Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP), a special education advocacy training. Using participants’ responses to open-ended questions on the VAP application, we examined the perceptions of caregivers and professionals to understand their motivations for becoming advocates, their plans for using their newfound knowledge and skills, and their perceptions of the attributes of special education advocates. Findings indicated some key differences between caregivers and professionals in their reasons for becoming advocates and plans for using their newfound knowledge and skills. Participants wanted to become special education advocates to help their own child (if they were caregivers) and to help others. Participants planned to use their newfound knowledge and skills to advocate and to provide service to the community at three levels depending on their role: school, community, and state/national. Finally, regardless of role, participants perceived warmth, competence, and grit to be necessary attributes of successful advocates. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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