December 3 — 1:31 pm, 2009

Training program boosts skills in special education advocacy

The Arc of Philadelphia, a disability rights group, is sponsoring a 12-session Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) program for anyone interested in educational issues affecting children with disabilities. The first session was November 21.

Topics covered include the power behind the special education law, preparing and effectively using the IEP, understanding evaluations, out-of-school time, and transition planning. 

Participants who complete the training will be eligible to become board-certified advocates under a program established by the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Organizers say the SEAT program is unique in providing “cross-training” on educational, legal, and clinical information needed to secure a quality education for students with disabilities. Parents will be learning and collaborating alongside professionals during the program.

“This training will particularly empower parents and enhance their advocacy skills – it gives them the tools they need to ensure that their child makes meaningful academic progress and enjoys the same enrichment and activities as their peers,” said Cecilia Thompson, chair of the Philadelphia Right to Education Task Force.

Marie Lewis, RN, Ph.D., executive director of the National Center for Autism Resources and Education, will lead the program.

The advocacy program has the support of many agencies and advocacy groups, including the mayor’s education office. Sharon Tucker Gaskins, the city’s deputy chief education officer and keynote speaker for the first session, is working with the Arc to involve other city agencies.

“City agencies can play a role in strengthening the educational experiences of young people with disabilities,” she said.

Information about the program is at, or call Donna Bouclier at 215-229-4550 ext. 112 or email

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