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Self Advocacy

What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocates exercise their rights as citizens by communicating for and representing themselves and others for whatever supports they need.  Self-Advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, knowing your rights and responsibilities, and reaching out to others when you need help. Self-advocacy means putting your own needs first. It means improving yourself by:

1.  knowing your rights;

2.  knowing who can help you facilitate your rights;

3.  demanding your rights when they are not offered to you directly; and

4.  enjoying your rights once they have been obtained.

Self-advocacy is one of the most important ways in which people with disabilities have a voice of their own.

Why is Self-Advocacy Important?

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to certain rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are secluded and segregated from their communities, which could result in a loss and denial of basic human rights and discrimination in almost all areas of life. Through self-advocacy, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have more impact on their own situation and on the public policies that affect them.

Steps to Take

There are many ways for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to advocate for themselves.  An individual can self advocate for services and supports that they or another person with disabilities needs, as well as policy advocacy for services and rights that impact all people with disabilities need at the local, state, and national level. Want to join a self-advocacy group near you?  Check out SABE 

Empower yourself! Find out about all the tools available to you to help

Self-Advocacy Links and Resources

Here is a list of agencies that serve people with disabilities. They provide useful information on advocacy.

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
Publications and videos that answer these questions and more: What is the ADA? Who is a person with a disability? Who
must comply with the ADA? Where can you call to ask questions about ADA?

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division


AHEAD is a professional association committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in postsecondary education.

Learn more about self-advocacy from the Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) 


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