Partners in Policymaking
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Welcome to Partners!

Class 34 Partners Graduates Featured on Disabled and Proud, KFAI Radio Program

On May 25, 2017, four Class 34 Partners in Policymaking ® graduates were featured on the KFAI radio program, Disabled and Proud.  They each spoke about why they applied to participate in this leadership training program, their personal experiences, and the many benefits they all received – knowledge gained, communication skills and confidence in advocating effectively about a range of disability issues, and meeting with and educating elected officials on policy issues.

June 1 , 2017

Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook

Changing Lives, Changing Policies

In celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, we are pleased to announce the release of the newly revised and updated Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook.

This is the eighth edition of the Handbook, designed to help Coordinators who are starting or restarting a Partners program as well as serve as a resource for Coordinators to maintain the quality of existing programs. The online learning courses have been incorporated into the curriculum, offering participants another avenue to strengthen and enrich their classroom experience.

This version is fully accessible and incorporates all current accessibility features. (8/23/16)

Download and Read the Handbook >>

Partners Evaluation Reports >>

Forms Related to Replication of the Partners Classroom Program:
Partners Profile Form
Time Match Form
Respite Care/Child Care Reimbursement Form
Participant Reimbursement Request Form
Sample Partners Application
Session Evaluation
Sample Participation Agreement

Policy Change Through Parent and Consumer Leadership Education

The New Hampshire Leadership Series is based on the Partners in Policymaking® program. This study looks at the impact of intensive leadership training on the level of knowledge gained by participants, their involvement in advocacy activities, and their vision for the future. These are all critical components of the Partners program, and a foundation for building and strengthening partnerships with elected officials and other policymakers to realize positive systems change. Read the Article >> (9/23/16)

Partners in Policymaking®
Changing Lives. Changing Policies.

Changing Lives, Changing Policies

Since the Partners program was created in Minnesota in 1987, more than 27,000 self advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities have graduated nationally and internationally. They comprise a network of trained advocates and leaders, working in partnership with their elected officials to positively change the way people with disabilities live, work, and are educated; and enjoy the benefits of being actively involved in their communities.

On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this book traces the history of the Partners program. Through a collection of stories and testimonials, Partners graduates share the impact of the program on their lives as well as the many ways that the ADA has resulted in their greater inclusion and integration into the community and society at large. (7/28/15)

Download and read the book (accessible PDF)

The Disability Justice Resource Center

The Disability Justice Resource Center

An online resource for everyone interested in learning more about the rights of people with developmental disabilities and protection of those rights. This online resource is divided into three sections: Justice Denied, Basic Legal Rights, and Working with People with Developmental Disabilities in the Justice System.

Disability Justice Center Faculty   Video Index


The Fight for Civil Rights for People with Disabilities

"The Fight for Civil Rights for People with Disabilities" is a compilation of the "Moments in Disability History," now presented as a free Webinar. This one hour presentation is an accounting of the key events and influential leaders who pursued the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Here also are the many personal stories of discrimination, and reflections on the lives of individuals with disabilities who experienced only isolation and segregation but who also envisioned an inclusive society that would recognize them as fully capable and productive first class citizens.

The Webinar can be used by anyone – students, professionals, law schools, and CLE instructors as well as self advocates and family members. There is no need to review the entire Webinar in a single sitting; you can review sections as time permits.

The Fight for Civil Rights for People with Disabilities

"Telling Your Story"

App Available Now for iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, and Android Tablet and Phone

Compose and practice your personal story to present to elected public officials or other policymakers. Learn the best ways to introduce yourself and talk about your issue, record and practice your story, and include a photo if you would like.

The iPad version of the app is available free at the iTunes Store
The iPhone/iPod Touch version is also available free at the iTunes Store
The Android tablet version is available free from Google Play

The Android phone version is available free from Google Play
The Kindle Fire HD version is available at

View a print version of each of the screens for the "Telling our Story" app >>

For those who cannot use this app, here is a basic script for any communication with a public official >>

Telling Your Story Telling Your Story

Making Your Case, the print publication, was created in 1994. This was the first of many tools used in the Partners in Policymaking program that focused on specific techniques and insights for effective communication skills in the legislative process and the many ways to positively influence public policy at all levels of government.

Both the "Telling Your Story" app and the Partners in Making Your Case online course, released in 2003, are using different technologies based on the original publication. They all serve as tools for making those critical connections with your elected public officials and building positive partnerships in the policymaking process.

Starting a Partners Program
Forms for Getting Started
Supplemental Resources

Supplemental Readings

  • HISTORY: Additional insights into the origins and evolution of institutions, the rise of the institutional model, and the realities of congregated, segregated, and isolated living conditions; and the movements that challenged perceptions and changed the thinking about individuals with disabilities.
  • INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: General resources about special education and state specific resources about related issues. Inclusive education covers transition and post secondary education.
  • THE COUNTY (LOCAL GOVERNMENT) ROLE IN DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES: Programs, services, and supports available to individuals with developmental disabilities and families (state specific) and delivered by the county/local government; a few national resources are included.
  • PERSONAL LIVING, AND SUPPORTED AND CUSTOMIZED EMPLOYMENT: The full range of housing options, housing rights, and universal design are included as well as job searching and finding employment in diverse business environments from an employee/employer perspective.
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: The concepts and principles behind community organizing are at the heart of systems change, and take into account the many skills and abilities that each person brings to the neighborhood and community for the common good of all.
  • STATE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS: A citizenship government relies on the partnerships and relationships of elected public officials and other policymakers, and their constituents to influence and realize positive systems change about state legislative issues.
  • FEDERAL ISSUES: Policies that affect individuals with developmental disabilities and families in all states require that partnerships and relationships are established and strengthened with members of a state's Congressional delegation.
  • GRADUATION – APPLYING THE PARTNERS EXPERIENCE: Tips, tools, and guidelines for making the best use of the new knowledge and practical skills acquired during the Partners program.
  • The University of Kansas Research & Training Center on Independent Living has created a Spanish version of Guidelines for Writing and Reporting about People with Disabilities (People First language).
Online Training Courses

The Partners Online Training Courses have been converted to a Learning Management System (LMS), and are available at

Please take the courses at this address.

Digital Government Achievement Award

Partners in Making Your Case: Learn the critical skills to be an effective advocate for positive public policy changes that affect individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Available in Spanish
Available in American Sign Language

Partners in Education: Learn about the history of education for children with developmental disabilities, the laws about special education and your children's rights, and how to navigate the special education system to best prepare your child(ren) for an independent future and employment.

Available in Spanish

Partners in Employment: Learn the practical skills to finding competitive employment, creating a resumé that reflects your skills and abilities, preparing for a successful job interview, and evaluating a job offer.

Available as an EZ Read version
Available in Spanish

Partners in Time: Learn how the successes, mistakes, and actions of earlier generations have shaped our world; how services, programs, and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have evolved over time; and how to apply these past lessons to create a brighter future.

Available in Spanish

Partners in Living: Learn how to create a meaningful life for yourself by exploring four important elements – self determination, family support, community living, and assistive technology.

Available in Spanish

GCDD is committed to your privacy when taking these e-learning courses. Click here to review our Privacy Policy.

Activities and Highlights

The Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council created a Junior Partners in Policymaking program for young adults with and without disabilities, ages 15-22. A Delaware newspaper published this article about the program.

In this talk radio show interview, Dan Habib speaks about the impact that Partners in Policymaking had on his life. Dan is the director and producer of the documentary, Including Samuel.

The Delaware Partners in Policymaking program offers a similar program for young adults. These Junior Partners graduates are organizing and strengthening their networks to assure that young adults have a voice in the schools and educational systems that are preparing them for their futures. Personalized learning and what makes a great education are not only their goals but sharing their teaching and learning with other students, teachers and parents to make a difference beyond the classroom walls. About Student Voice is creating an international network of empowered students and giving them the tools to use their voice in policy discussions and decisions.

Deborah Davis is a 2012 West Virginia Partners in Policymaking graduate. Her testimonial not only captures the many benefits she received from her Partners learning experience but sets out a Plan of Action that conveys both challenges and an inspirational message.

Ellen Coulston, a Delaware Partners graduate, is helping to make sure that students with disabilities are equipped with the self advocacy skills and positive attitudes to achieve their personal life goals.

Shelby Nurse and her dad, Florida residents, were keynote co-presenters at the Assistive Technology Employment Summit in Bethesda, Maryland on May 8, 2013. Shelby's story is another example of the value and benefits of the Partners in Policymaking program, and how assistive technology is changing lives and making so many personal life goals a reality for individuals with disabilities. A snapshot of Shelby's college life is available at

A person centered planning approach, Circles of Support, led to meaningful action plans and very positive differences in the lives of two individuals with developmental disabilities in the United Kingdom.

See All Activities and Highlights >>

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