Self-determination refers to the concept that everyone should have control over his or her own lives. This includes determining where one will live and work. It also means that people with disabilities should have control of the resources that support them.
The self-determination movement is one driven by an increasing number of self-advocates (people with disabilities and elderly). They have communicated their need for more control over the services and supports provided for them. The response has been positive. Professionals, such as case managers and agency staff members have improved service systems. Self-advocates now have a stronger voice and more control over the services that they receive. The State of Hawai`i has been one of the leaders in this movement and is credited with having one of the strongest laws supporting self-determination.
Speaking for Ourselves
The Speaking for Ourselves website contains a brief description of some of the principles of self-determination.
Taking Charge: Stories of Success and Self-Determination
Do-It is an organization based at the University of Washington. It has created a video called "Taking Charge: Stories of Success and Self Determination". The video highlights some inspiring young people. It shows how self-determination has shaped and is continuing to shape their lives. You can view these movies on your computer or you can order a copy online.
The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition offers these resources to help students, parents, and educators understand postsecondary transition issues.
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Self-advocacy means to advocate for oneself. In the lives of people with disabilities and elderly, self-advocacy has come to mean speaking out about the way people with disabilities are treated and the way their lives are affected by systems and services. Self-advocates can, and do deal with any issue that affects people with disabilities. However, they tend to focus on the main issues of having choice and control in their lives.
You can only be a self-advocate in the disability movement if you are a person with a disability. Otherwise, you are an advocate. If you want to become a self-advocate or learn how you can be a better self-advocate, there are many organizations with which you can get involved.
The AAMR is a national organization that promotes progressive policies and practices for people with intellectual disabilities. The question and answer page describes self-advocacy and highlights some of the key issues being worked on by self-advocates.
The Riot is about self-advocacy. The site offers a newsletter, a blog where self-advocates can share opinions, an online art gallery, toolkits, games and services to help individuals become stronger self-advocates.
The Center on Human Policy
The Center on Human Policy posts questions and answers on the self-advocacy movement.
National Mental Health Consumer's Self Help Clearinghouse
National Mental Health Consumer's Self Help Clearinghouse has developed the Freedom Self-Advocacy Curriculum to help teach people to become self-advocates.
Self Advocate Net
Self Advocate Net is an organization based in Canada. It provides a venue where people with intellectual disabilities can share their stories and experiences so that others can learn from them. They provide information about important issues and encourage individuals to speak up and stand up for their rights.
Becoming an Effective Self-Advocate
LD Pride teaches people with learning disabilities to be proud of their unique learning styles. It also provides help with developing coping techniques.
Transition and Self-Advocacy
Students with learning disabilities may find it necessary to advocate for them-selves during the IEP process and in other areas of their education. The hidden nature of their disability may cause others to misinterpret their motivation or support needs. Learning Disabilities Online provides some questions and answers about self-advocacy and how you can help a student to become a self-advocate.
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is a national organization supporting self-advocacy and empowerment for people with disabilities. Learn more about their goals and what they are doing in your area. There may be conferences or workshops that will help you with your self-advocacy goals.
Advocating Change Together
ACT or Advocating Change Together provides programs and products to help individuals with disabilities create social and political change. It provides publications, videos, and other resources on self-advocacy skills and leadership opportunities. The information will also help you understand important issues related to self-advocacy. Some publications are free and others are available for a fee. Check out their links and other projects as well.