Definitions of Self-Advocacy/Self-Determination

Self-advocacy means advocating on one’s own behalf. It is the root of all social activist movements. The self-advocacy movement was started by and for people with developmental disabilities because they wanted to be their own advocates rather than having others, such as professionals, parents and other family members, and advocates with or without other disabilities, speak about their needs and desires. As part of the broader disability rights/independent living movement, the self-advocacy movement is first and foremost a civil rights movement. As with all social activist movements, self-advocacy started at the grass-roots level where local leadership was drawn upon to organize groups of people to stand up and speak with a goal to effect social change. The national self-advocacy organization, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), has defined self-advocacy in 1991 as the following:

” [It] is about independent groups of people with disabilities working together for justice by helping each other take charge of our lives and fight discrimination. It teaches us how to make decisions and choices that affect our lives so we can be more independent. It also teaches us about our rights, but along with learning about our rights we learn responsibilities. The way we learn about advocating for ourselves is by supporting each other and helping each other gain confidence in ourselves so we can speak out for what we believe in.”



The Self-Advocacy of Disability Accommodation Students with disabilities and their families are often surprised to find a very different approach to disability in college from what they experienced in high school.

Self-Determination for Postsecondary Students This Web topic explores how self-determination—the combined skills of self-awareness, self-advocacy, self-efficacy, decision-making, independent performance, self-evaluation, and adjustment—can contribute to an individual’s ability to establish and achieve his or her own goals during and after higher education experiences.

Self-Advocacy Skill Building

SA Handbook for College Students with Disabilities  Self-Advocacy (SA) skills are key to college and life success. Through self-advocacy skill development, students learn life‑long strategies to help them take charge of their lives and maximize their strengths.

Navigating College

Navigating College: A Project of The Autistic Self Advocay Network Navigating College is an introduction to the college experience from those of us who’ve been there. The writers and contributors are Autistic adults, and we’re giving you the advice that we wish someone could have given us when we headed off to college. We wish we could sit down and have a chat with each of you, to share our experiences and answer your questions. But since we can’t teleport, and some of us have trouble meeting new people, this book is the next best thing.