Strengthening One’s Voice:
Advocating for Yourself & Others
Building literacy skills can open the door to increased confidence to speak up for oneself, as well as others in need of an advocate.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an “advocate” is “one who pleads the cause of another.” The root of the word is “voice,” and to advocate truly is to give a voice to needs and concerns.
They are many ways to practice exercising this voice. A few ideas are:
- Role play with the learner: If he or she would like to speak to a teacher, doctor, or manager, for example, you can work out in advance the types of words to use to make the point and then practice the conversation.
- Identify venues where learners’ voices need to be heard: Perhaps the literacy program would like to make a presentation to the City Council or Friends of the Library about the work being done in the literacy program. Would your learner like to say a few words? Writing and practicing a speech is good practice, even if it is only delivered in private.
- Letter-writing: Being able to put issues in writing is important. A short form of writing is the letter to the editor. A longer form to practice would be a letter to an individual.
- Research one’s rights: In many situations, we do not fully understand our rights. If your learner is a tenant, for example, you can research together what rights tenants have in your city. We also have rights as patients; you can review together how to access medical information, protect privacy, and such matters. Understanding one’s rights is empowering.
A growing number of learners in California’s library literacy programs have strengthened their leadership and advocacy skills through the Henry Huffman Leadership Institute, which originated through a partnership between Read Santa Clara and Vision Literacy. Read about it online: