What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is persuading a person with influence, the public, businesses, organizations or government to change attitudes, policies and/or practices about an issue. Education or awareness building is part of advocacy because it is informing others of issues – or a side to an issue – they may not be aware of. However, change in attitudes, policies or practices may not automatically happen with just education. 

At CNIB Ontario, we focus primarily on two kinds of advocacy: Self-advocacy and advocating for group causes.
  • Self-advocacy is speaking up for yourself. It could be as simple as stating that you need to sit at the front of the class or you need materials in an accessible format. It could be a volunteer or employee explaining that they need a speech output program or screen reader. Or it could be a person pointing out it is their right to have access to a treatment or a medication, or telling someone not to touch their guide dog. You might not be thinking of other people with sight loss when you are advocating for your rights, although your actions could result in helping others. We provide training, tools and resources to our advocates so they are empowered to drive their own campaigns forward.
  • Advocating for group causes is primarily concerned with influencing and changing the 'system' in general (such as legislation, policy and practices) in ways that will benefit people with sight loss as a group. Campaigns encourage overall changes to the law, policies and practices. It can be done behind closed doors – one-on-one, between advocates and the decision makers (usually some form of government). Or it can be conducted more publicly – by building public awareness, you help to create the kind of environment that governments often need in order to take action on an issue. They need to know that voters are watching and want the changes being considered. We mobilize our advocate volunteers to join together and get involved in provincial and national advocacy campaigns. For further information on what we have been working on visit the Issues We Are Following and/or Support page.