Being an Effective Advocate, with Dave Deuel

Good Things In Life Podcast episode 133 thumbnail with Dave Deuel
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Despite decades of progress, three myths seem to persist that keep many people from getting involved in disability advocacy at the policy level: 1) advocacy is only for experts; 2) it’s too time-consuming and difficult; and 3) it’s a waste of time because it won’t make a difference anyway. But if those myths were true, then we would never have been able to break free from the days of total segregation and heavy institutionalization. 

So maybe the advocacy world is more accessible to the average citizen than most people think. Dave Deuel sure thinks so—he’s a parent of an adult with a disability and has a lifetime of successful political advocacy behind him. So how does Dave do it?

He joins me on today’s podcast to talk about how he became such an effective advocate. We discussed the importance of storytelling as an advocacy technique, the conceptualization of advocacy as a lifelong process, the importance of a team approach, and acknowledging those hard moments when advocating feels like it’s sucking more energy from you than you can take. 

Dave Deuel is a researcher and academic who has served on numerous boards related to health and disability service. He has also served as a peer counselor for parents of children with disabilities with Parent-to-Parent Network and as parent group founder and leader for the National Down Syndrome Association. He has edited senate bills as applications of the State of California Lanterman Act, as well as participated in disability outreach projects for children in Romania, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine and other countries. More recently, Dave was appointed Region Disability Integration Lead for the American Red Cross and became a member of the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Thematic Group in the interest of people with disabilities in disasters as well as the New York State Developmental Disability Planning Council. Dave is married with four adult children, one of whom has Down syndrome.

It may seem at times like we still have so far to go, but listen now to my chat with Dave to remind yourself just how far it is we’ve already come—and how much possibility there is for a brighter, more inclusive future. 

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Special thanks to Dave Deuel for joining me this week. Until next time!

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Genia Stephen
Genia Stephen

Sister, mother, midwife, writer, speaker and perpetually curious. Dedicated to bringing you the voices, ideas and conversations of world class mentors and thought leaders in the field of disability.