VII. The Self-Advocacy Movement 1980's to Present A. Introduction
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Self-advocacy, quite simply, means advocating for one's self, standing up for one's rights. For thousands of people with disabilities around the world, self-advocacy is a term of personal identity, focusing on one's political power and right to self determination. It is also a civil rights movement that represents individuals of all races, colors, and religions who have been systematically neglected, abused, incarcerated, and misunderstood for most of history.

Self-advocacy – as a personal and political philosophy – is a movement primarily of and by persons labeled with mental retardation who are making their own decisions, speaking for themselves and for others with disabilities, and taking control over their lives. Self-advocacy is both part of the larger disability rights movement and a separate movement that concentrates on major issues of concern for persons with developmental disabilities.