People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD*) have the right to advocate and/or be supported to act as self-advocates. Self-advocates exercise their rights as citizens by communicating for and representing themselves and others, with whatever supports they need. Self-advocates must have a meaningful role in decision-making in all areas of their daily lives and in public policy decisions that affect people with IDD.
People with IDD have been isolated and segregated from their communities, and presumed incompetent, resulting in loss and denial of basic human rights and discrimination in almost all areas of personal and community life. Through self-advocacy, people with IDD will have more impact on their own situations and on the public policies that affect them.
The self-advocacy movement has been critically important in supporting people with IDD to learn about self-advocacy skills and other topics, including:
There are many ways for people with IDD to act as advocates, including individual self-advocacy for the individual services and supports that they or another person with IDD needs, as well as policy advocacy for the funding, services, and rights that impact people with IDD at the local, state, and national level.
People with IDD must have the right to advocate for themselves and others. People with IDD have the right to speak or act on their own behalf and alongside other people with disabilities, whether the issue is individual or related to broader public policy. Recognizing these rights in a respectful partnership between people with and without disabilities can lead to better outcomes and better lives for everyone.
Self-advocates provide important knowledge, experience, and skills that individuals, organizations, and government agencies need in order to effectively support the needs of and enhance the lives of people with IDD. To promote this participation, it is critical to acknowledge the important role that self-advocates play in developing leadership skills and increasing people’s pride, influence, and opportunities. To achieve this partnership between self-advocates and their support persons or organizations, the following must occur:
Board of Directors, AAIDD
February 12, 2020
Board of Directors, The Arc of the United States
Intellectual Disability (ID) is a lifelong condition where significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior emerge during the developmental period (before adulthood).
Developmental Disabilities (DD), first defined in 1975 federal legislation now known as “The DD Act,”, are a group of lifelong conditions that emerge during the developmental period and result in some level of functional limitation in learning, language, communication, cognition, behavior, socialization, or mobility. The most common DD conditions are intellectual disability, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, fetal alcohol syndrome, and fragile X syndrome.
The acronym “IDD” is used to describe a group that includes either people with both ID and another DD or a group that includes people with ID or another DD. The supports that people with IDD need to meet their goals vary in intensity from intermittent to pervasive.
Join The AAIDD Email List