Self-Advocacy

The National Council of Self Advocates of The Arc (NCSA)

  • The National Council of Self Advocates offers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) the opportunity to connect with leaders of all ages and abilities across the nation and let their voices be heard. The Council is free to join for members of the Arc and promotes involvement, education, empowerment, and leadership to ensure that individuals with I/DD lead meaningful lives.


Self-Advocates in their own words review National Gateway's Research to Practice Issue 1

  • Some of the Research to Practice Issue 1 on Self-Advocacy was written by individuals who are self-advocates. Other parts of the issue on self-advocacy were written by others who are friends and colleagues of self-advocates. Click on the links below to view self-advocates explaining the text of Issue 1, Research to Practice, using their own words:

  1. Mitchell Levitz talks about “Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy” (pages 3 -5 of Issue 1 of the National Gateway to Self-Determination Research to Practice Series – Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy).

  2. Mia Peterson (pages 8-10, “Self-Determination and Supports”).

  3. Bill Krebs talks about “Using Lifebooks for Self-Advocacy”, pages 11, 16.

  4. Mia Peterson describes “Steps to Increased Social Capital in the Lives of Self-Advocates”, pages 17-19.

  5. Bill Krebs tells about “Beyond Tokenism”, pages 24-25.

  6. Mitchell Levitz tells about “Surveying Self-Advocates: Using i-Pads Embodies Self-Determination” pages 30-32.


Include Me!

  • This web site is designed for self-advocates interested in hosting or attending a conference. It presents ways to include self-advocates in a conference as well as checklists for self-advocates attending a conference. Other helpful resources such as guidelines for hosting a conference and links to Self-Advocacy groups.


Leadership: A guide for promoting leadership skills in youth with disabilities

  • After interviewing 32 young adult leaders, researchers at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin discovered what it takes to be a great leader and how to promote leadership in young people with disabilities. This guide offers families, schools, and other professionals guidance and strategies to help young people become active leaders in their communities. Some important attributes the interviewees identified as being essential to leadership include: effecting change, advocating for others, having a vision, being a role model and being optimistic. This tool hopes to encourage young adults with disabilities become leaders and seek out opportunities.


National Youth Leadership Network

  • Young people today have more choices and opportunities than ever before, this includes youth with disabilities. However, sometimes these opportunities are not always presented clearly to them. The National Youth Leadership Network provide a mechanism to connect youth in three partner states: New York, Mississippi, and Idaho to collectively make decisions and foster youth leadership for students with disabilities.


National Youth Leadership Forum

  • The Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities aims to enable individuals to seek out opportunities, identify and overcome barriers, and become contributing, active members of society. Youth Leadership organizations exist in many states. The link below lists the program in California, as an example. Often, students learn from each other as well as mentors and adults with disabilities who have lead successful and independent lives.

  • The Employment Development Department. (2008). “Youth Leadership Forum.”


National Youth Leadership Information Documents

  • NYLN recognizes that often times, the biggest barrier for youth with disabilities is the lack of information we receive on issues that are important for our lives. To help resolve this, we created eight different documents on navigating housing, education, dating, employment, recreation, transportation, voting, and ways to facilitate using popular education.

  • Each of the documents are about 6-10 pages. They each come with a powerpoint so young people can use them in a training. Everything is also available in Spanish. All documents are in PDFs but are screenreader accessible.


Leadership Through Personal Change: Think-Plan-Do

  • This comprehensive guide was developed to help people with developmental disabilities lead self-determined lives. The Consumer Advisory Committee uses Think-Plan-Do as a strategy to help individuals learn how to achieve their goals. Topics individuals will learn about include planning and decision making skills, self-care, and how to achieve goals.


Getting involved in research and training projects: A guide for persons with disabilities

  • Heller, T., Miller, A., & Nelis.

  • This guide provides persons with disabilities information on how to get involved in research and training activities. It can be downloaded for free at the link provided above.


Leaders with Developmental Disabilities in the Self-Advocacy Movement

  • Joe Caldwell, Ph.D., received a NIDRR Switzer Fellowship to explore the life stories of thirteen leaders in the self-advocacy movement when he was an Adjunct Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago. The transcripts and video excerpts can be downloaded from The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkley atlink provided above.


A Capital Idea! Successful Strategies for Getting What You Want from Government

  • This manual from the American Foundation for the Blind gives advocates information and guidance on how to approach legislators and public officials on issues regarding people with disabilities. This guide outlines the language and rules of the political process. It gives readers a step-by-step method that includes defining the issue, identifying key players, planning a strategy, forming alliances and communicating with legislators.


Electric Edge

  • This website includes articles on topics such as discrimination, legislation, employment, housing, education and image/identity. It also offers editorials on personal experiences regarding disabilities as well as current reports and lawsuits. Electric Edge also incorporates blog postings on the site.


Income and Asset Development

  • This three-set DVD offers individuals with disabilities lessons on earning opportunities and how to build financial assets. Its sections include: Creating Alliances, Government and Community Endeavors, Gaining Freedom through Financial Security.


Best Buddies

  • Best Buddies is a nonprofit international organization focused on establishing a volunteer movement that forms lasting friendship and leadership opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Developed in 1989, Best Buddies has grown to encompass more than 1,500 college, high school and middle school campuses across the country and internationally.


Direct Support Professionals Toolkit

  • This toolkit offers user-friendly tips to help people with disabilities find quality, caring and committed Direct Support Professionals. This guide was created for families and includes many different strategies to choose from.


Being a Healthy Adult: How to Advocate for Your Health and Health Care

  • The purpose of this guide is to teach young adults with disabilities how to become strong self-advocates for their own health and health care. The guide includes activities, worksheets, and tips for communicating effectively with health care providers, keeping track of personal health information, and figuring out what supports will help each individual make the health-related choices that are right for him or her. It is available in English and Spanish. Book copy can be ordered.


Guardianship: Understanding Your Options & Alternatives

  • This Resource Guide was originally developed to support the MO Guardianship: Understanding Your Options & Alternatives training program. It is intended to help guide you through the process of determining what the most appropriate and least restrictive options and alternatives are to plenary or full guardianship for your unique circumstance. It addresses common concerns, misperceptions, myths, and provides guidance for addressing the potential needs of people with developmental disabilities for support and/or protection. It is for general information only. It is not legal advice. The information provided is based on Missouri law at the date of publication, as well as the experiences and knowledge of individuals who have researched and/or provided input during its development.


Kentucky Youth Advocacy Project

  • The Kentucky Youth Advocacy Project is designed to provide students aged 8-18 years with individualized and group activities to support the early development of self-advocacy skills. This program seeks to offer a framework for teachers, Speech Language Pathologists and families throughout Kentucky who are interested in fostering self-advocacy with younger students with identified disabilities Children in Kentucky who have significant developmental disabilities, and in particular those who need or use augmentative communication systems, are included. Children in this program are mentored by successful individuals with disabilities. They will also be provided with individualized instruction utilizing Wehmeyer’s Self-Determined Learning Model of Learning.


Whose Future is it Anyway?

  • A manual for students with disabilities who need to be more involved in their educational plans in order to take control of their future. Whose Future is designed to help students plan and choose their goals and effectively communicate these goals to teachers and parents.