VII. The Self-Advocacy Movement - 1980's to Present B. Origins of the Self Advocacy Movement
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Inspired by the advocacy and civil rights groups of the 1960s, and formed partly in reaction to professional and parental attitudes, self-advocacy groups formed their own organizations at the local, state, and national levels.

In 1995, over 600 self-advocacy organizations existed in the United States, including the national organization Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered. Self-advocacy groups have also sprung up in a dozen other nations.

Valerie SchaaF Play Video
Video: 1974 People First
conference footage
(Valerie Schaaf)
Valerie SchaaF Play Video
Video: Rosemary Dybwad recalls a march with self advocates who had been residents of a Massachusetts state institution, and Gunnar Dybwad adds an historical perspective to the origins of the movement.

Many self-advocacy organizations adopted a structure similar to parent and professional organizations, an approach that was viewed as a measure of success.

Self-advocates planned their own conferences; named their organization (People First, Speaking for Ourselves, Project II), and occasionally even joined professional organizations like AAMR and The Arc; ran their own meetings, held elections, formulated their own issues, and changed the language of the field.