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Our Work


What does NAS do?

This page explains how we do our work for people with disabilities.

We explain our work by describing our methods and policies.

Another way that we explain our work is with case studies. These case studies are examples of how people with disabilities have worked with one of our advocates.

Find out how an advocate can help you with a decision or issue you are having.

Jane's Story.

What Advocates Do.


How we do our work

When the National Advocacy Service receives an enquiry (which may come from a variety of sources – directly from a person with a disability, a family member or friend, health or other professional, service provider or other organisations), the advocate meets with the person seeking support to gather information and establish the advocacy issues, and to ensure that NAS is the most appropriate support for the person. The advocate will support the person to self-advocate, or go on to advocate for them where appropriate, but at all times the advocate will be led by the person. Where the person communicates by gesture or behaviour, the advocate will work with the person to identify their will and preference in accordance with best international practice.

Advocates take affirmative action to uphold the person’s rights, ensure fair and equal treatment and access to services, and make certain that decisions are taken with due consideration for their unique preferences and perspective. The value of advocacy continued to be demonstrated through the positive outcomes for people with disabilities.

NAS ensures that our service is fully accessible to people with disabilities working with an advocate. NAS uses different communications methods with people, depending on their needs and preferences. In the course of our work with people with disabilities, NAS facilitates the use of Irish Sign Language interpretation, utilises plain English or easy-to-read materials, foreign language translation services, and other alternative communication methodologies where appropriate.


Representative Advocacy

Independent, representative advocacy empowers and is directed by the people who use it. It is person centred, accountable, accessible, impartial and independent of service providers, families and other supports.

It involves professional, trained experts in advocacy dealing with specific issues and working with an individual until that issue reaches conclusion. Issues can be about any aspect of a person’s life and the advocacy plan is directed by the person. Where the person communicates differently (through behaviour and gestures or assistive technology as opposed to verbal or written communication) the advocacy plan is still directed by the person. Where the person’s will and preference cannot be ascertained, the advocate approaches the matter using the four internationally recognised methods: witness observer; person centeredness; a rights-based approach; and ‘ordinary life’ principles.


People with Disabilities – taking a rights-based approach

The Irish Constitution and both the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) guarantee the same fundamental rights to everyone. People with disabilities may enjoy these rights as a principle, but can experience great difficulty in exercising rights such as those of privacy, respect and dignity, the freedom to choose and to have opportunities to fulfil personal aspirations, and the right to realise their potential in their daily lives. People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to not being able to exercise rights, often because of assumptions that they do not have the capacity to make choices, or through dependence on others for care/support, and isolation from the wider community. In addition, there are many barriers facing people with disabilities in attempting to remedy situations where they are deprived of their rights.

Advocacy can be the key role in enabling people to exercise autonomy and choice, and a measure of this is in HIQA standards, which recognise the right of adults in residential settings to access independent advocacy.