Self-Advocacy and IEPs

It is generally understood that a collaborative approach to planning benefits both the process and the outcome; this also applies to the IEP planning process. The IEP Resource Guide provides direction that when developing the IEP, consultation needs to occur with parents, previous teachers and other professionals, and the student, where possible:

“Principals are legally required to ensure that all students who are 16 years of age or older are consulted in the development of the IEP. However, any student for whom an IEP is being developed should be consulted to the degree possible.”

- The Individual Education Plan (IEP), A Resource Guide, pg. 14 [1]

Including students in the IEP process ensures that the IEP is student centred and the process promotes both student engagement and student ownership.

Students with LDs can be involved with the IEP process in the following ways:

  • Students can share their strengths and needs – as a key component to self-advocacy, students need to know their learning profile
  • Students can identify important learning goals
  • Students can identify accommodations they need to access the curriculum and demonstrate their learning

Explicit Instruction for IEP Conferences

Student conferencing with 2 teachers

Explicit instruction involves using highly structured and sequenced steps to teach a specific skill. Research has shown that students who were prepared for IEP meetings with explicit instruction identified more goals, contributed more to the meeting, and were better at describing their learning strengths and weaknesses. 

In order to prepare students for their involvement in the IEP process, Ellis et al. used the mnemonics SHARE and IPLAN in tandem with explicit instruction. Students were able to see examples of the SHARE and IPLAN skills modelled by their teachers and were given opportunities to practice their advocacy skills with a teacher or their peers before their IEP meetings.

S - Sit up straight

H - Have a pleasant tone of voice

A - Activate

R - Relax

E - Engage in eye communication


Click here to access LD@school’s template for the SHARE mnemonic.


I - Inventory strengths, needs, goals, and choices


P - Provide your inventory

L - Listen and respond

A - Ask questions

N - Name your goals


Click here to access LD@school’s template for the I PLAN mnemonic.

[1] Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004