Blog Post

Self-Advocacy Online Update

We've had a busy few months working on our website in preparation for a national conference ("Reinventing Quality") in Baltimore earlier this week. Attended by over 700 people, including many leaders in the disability field, the conference was a great opportunity to demonstrate our site and receive comments from many potential users and supporters, and to gain the interest and buy-in from national leaders in self-advocacy.

We have come a long way on the Self-Advocacy Online website front end. Focused planning in how the four major parts of the site (Learning Center, Finding Self-Advocates, My Page, and Site Builder) will fit together have resulted in a nearly complete draft version of our user interfaces. These include interfaces for registering with the site, managing your social network of friends and groups, tracking and controlling your progress through the media-rich lessons in the Learning Center, finding self-advocacy organizations with a search of our database, and building a Web site for one's self-advocacy organization through the handy tools in our Site Builder. One of our most recent developments has been the enhancement of a few of our interfaces with JavaScript behaviors through the use of the JQuery JavaScript library; we plan on doing more of this.

Here is a description of the four major areas of Self-Advocacy Online:

1. My Page – A social networking section of the web site that will allow users to create profiles, meet, communicate and share information with other self-advocates based on common interests.
• Created user registration and login modules
• Created mock-up of “My Page” menu featuring My Messages, My Friends, My Groups and My Calendar sections

2. Site Builder – A web-based tool that will allow Self-Advocacy organizations listed in our Find Self-Advocates list to create and maintain their own web sites.
• Created a fully functional basic version of the Site Builder feature. Tools include:
o Template Chooser
o Color Picker
o Page/link management menu
o Calendar editor

3. Find Self-Advocates – A searchable national database of Self-Advocacy Organizations
• Streamlined the Self-Advocacy Group search interface and transferred it into new site design template
• Linked group information to Site Builder feature

4. Learning Center – a media-rich and content-accessible area featuring interactive lessons on topical areas in self-advocacy. New lessons in development include:
• Cultural competence
• Knowing Your Rights
• Healthy Relationships:
• My Voice, My Vote
Curriculum is in the draft stage for this lesson and video interviews and scenarios have been shot, with the collaboration of the Hubert Humphrey Center on Public Policy. This lesson will be online in early October and advertised widely to self-advocates and allies nationally.

We are also piloting Self-Advocacy Online at six sites across Minnesota, working with People First of Minnesota, a statewide self-advocacy group. These six groups are learning the technical requirements for using our site and are provided with technical assistance to build their own websites with our “Site Builder” feature. These presentations also provide us with new information on making our site more usable and relevant to self-advocates.

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