"We are speaking for ourselves. No one can do as well..."
The self-advocacy movement demonstrates that the notion of "leadership" is not limited to great public speakers or charismatic figures who can individually lead a large group or social movement. Self-advocacy is speaking up for yourself. In whatever form that may take, that self expression can be an act of tremendous leadership. Many self-advocates, including Nancy Ward, Bernard Carabello, T.J. Monroe, and Barb Goode, fit the traditional definition of a leader. They hold high-profile positions within the movement, often appear on television, and speak to large groups. Some self-advocates are demonstrating leadership skills by their active participation in self-advocacy groups, sitting on a board of directors or governmental affairs committee. Other self-advocates demonstrate leadership by asking questions and becoming involved in classrooms, churches, and within their own families. People with developmental disabilities are learning and practicing leadership skills, and developing their own leadership styles by becoming knowledgeable about issues and making their own choices about matters that affect them.
Personal stories, told at local group meetings, national conferences, or at legislative meetings and hearings, have a tremendous impact on how we view disability and how people view themselves.