Activities of self advocacy groups include:
• Making people aware of their rights;
• Training and talking to other people about self advocacy;
• Making information more accessible by using audiotapes or pictures;
• Making concrete changes to improve their lives (i.e. improve voter accessibility);
• Working to increase choices and quality of supports;
• Planning and organizing self advocacy conferences;
• Assisting people to speak up about abuse and exploitation;
• Organizing to fight against discrimination.
In summary, self advocacy means:
• Thinking for yourself;
• Saying what you think;
• Having relationships like anyone else;
• People listening to you;
• Making mistakes;
• Taking risks;
• Taking responsibility;
• Making decisions;
• Standing up for your rights.
Self-determination or taking control of one’s life has been defined in a variety of ways. Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, and Wehmeyer (1998) offer this definition:
Self-determination is a combination of skills, knowledge and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior.
An understanding of one’s strengths and limitations together with a belief in oneself as capable and effective are essential to self-determination. When acting on the basis of these skills and attitudes, individuals have greater ability to take control of their lives and assume the role of successful adults in our society.
Speaking Up For Ourselves
People First’s mission is to promote self-advocacy by speaking and acting on behalf of the rights and responsibilities of all people with developmental disabilities. One way of accomplishing this mission is to teach and train individuals how to speak up for themselves.
Understanding and respecting the fact that individuals with developmental disabilities have rights and responsibilities is a first step in speaking up.
This year’s focus of People First of West Virginia is teaching individuals to tell their story to self-advocacy. Join us at a People First Group to learn how to speak up for yourself and for others.