Introduction to Self-Advocacy

Fact Sheet
Updated: 7 months ago
Public Policy

What is self-advocacy?

Alice Wong’s Disability Visibility Project podcast “Episode 55: Self Advocacy” provides great insight into the origins, community, and movement behind self-advocacy. In this interview, Noor Pervez describes self-advocacy as “Standing up and saying, ‘No. This is a thing that shouldn’t be happening right now.’” Not only does self-advocacy prevent bad actions, it also leads to positive changes being made.

Interviewee Finn Gardiner emphasized that there is room for everyone to do self-advocacy and your form of self-advocacy can be whatever makes you comfortable. A common phrase in self-advocacy is “nothing about us without us.” Disabled individuals have lived experience and advocacy is a way turn that experience into action. A powerful example of this is the End the Wait campaign, a grassroots effort led by a small group of advocates, family members, and individuals on the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD) advocating for ending the wait list. The campaign gained community support, met with legislators, and attacked media attention. Although the waitlist still exists, DSPD received a substantial increase in funding.

In short, self-advocacy is articulating your needs and working to get those needs met. Self-advocacy can take place in conversations, at appointments, or in the legislature.


Examples of Self-Advocacy:

  • Telling your story

o   Sharing how disability impacts your day-to-day life

o   Demonstrating disability as a lived reality in comparison to dominant disability stereotypes

  • Requesting accommodations

o   Requesting an interpreter at an event

o   Asking for extra time on a test in school due to disability

  • Electoral advocacy

o   Campaigning for disabled candidates or candidates that commit to advancing disability issues

o   Running for office

o   Keeping disability issues in mind as you vote

  • Public advocacy

o   Social media

o   Op-Eds

o   Protests

  • Legislative advocacy

o   Meeting with legislators

o   Participating in committee meetings

o   Supporting community organization’s advocacy work

*Self-advocacy is more common than you think and goes far beyond these few examples*


Resources for Advocacy:

When self-advocating, it’s important to know your rights. The Disability Law Center (DLC) has a variety of recourses to support your efforts. This link will connect you with factsheets, brochures, and other educational information on specific topic areas that you can utilize in your self-advocacy efforts.

Federal law gives the Disability Law Center authority to make sure Utahns with disabilities are healthy, safe, can make choices, and be as independent as possible. If you want help advocating for what you need to be successful at home, school, or work, reach out to the DLC.