Self-Advocacy is NOT:
A civil rights movement for people with intellectual disabilities
People speaking-up for what they think is important
Something everyone is capable of
Making your case and negotiating for what you want
Realizing you are not alone, joining a self-advocacy group
Knowing your strengths, being proud and feeling strong
Taking risks, trying new things
Going after your dreams
Making mistakes and learning from them
Being part of your community
Managing your emotions so others can hear what you have to say
Being curious and asking questions
People sitting around and complaining
Only for people who can talk.
Keeping everything the same
Keeping to yourself
Putting yourself down
Playing it safe, doing the same stuff
Sleeping through your dreams
Other people making decisions for you
Not taking any chances
“Self-Advocacy” by the National Gateway to Self-Determination, 2011
Just like other civil rights movements, we need allies. In the self-advocacy movement, allies are people without disabilities. Allies take on the beliefs of the self-advocacy movement and support the movement.
History of Self-Advocacy
The beginning of the self-advocacy movement dates back to the 1960’s. Visit Parallels in Time: A History of Developmental Disabilities by the Minnesota Department of Administration Council on Developmental Disabilities to read a timeline of self-advocacy and the people first movements.
Watch the People First film (1976, 34 minutes) published with permission of James Stanfield Film Company. The film shows the first state conference of People First of Oregon. The conference was chaired by Valerie Sharf. The conference is considered the beginning of the self-advocacy movement in the United States.