Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Keri DeSutter


Special education, self-advocacy


Self-advocacy is an important skill that all students should learn. It plays a vital role in many aspects of life at home, in school, in the community, and at work. This is especially important for special education students who have more challenges than their peers. It begins by improving communication with teachers, giving students the confidence to voice their needs, and acquiring appropriate modifications and accommodations that allow them to show their true abilities and reach their full academic potential. Students that are able to self-advocate are more likely to be more successful in school as well as later on in their adult lives.

Literature states that there is an increasing demand for special educators to focus on teaching academic skills. Along with overseeing IEPs, transition planning, progress monitoring, conducting meetings, and providing accommodations and modifications, little time is left over to teach self-advocacy. Because of this, many students are struggling with making independent decisions, solving problems, setting goals, and accepting the consequences of their actions. The IDEA puts an emphasis on learning transition services in order to prepare for adulthood. Youth with disabilities have a lower rate of enrollment in post-secondary education than students without a disability, are less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree, and have a much lower percentage of employment between the ages of sixteen and sixty-four. There are a number of different programs and curricula that are currently available and up-and-coming to support students in learning how to self-advocate. It is important that students play an active role in planning their transition from high school to post-secondary school and then on to employment and independent living. Though IDEA mandates student involvement in planning their IEP and transition, many do not have the proper knowledge, skills, or confidence to do so. By increasing their self-advocacy skills, students can be more active in the planning process because they will have gained the knowledge needed to describe their own needs and preferences.



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