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Increasingly, people with disabilities are exercising different kinds of leadership and power. They are taking positions of influence and using their knowledge to help others learn.

  • Joe Meadours from Alabama has developed a healthy sex education manual called Healthy Relationships and Safe Sex: Tips for Self-Advocates… "to help my friends, colleagues and peers realize that they can have a relationship. People do not have the tools to know what a relationship is. For the longest time, people living in nursing homes, institutions and group homes didn't have relationships. Now, people are realizing they do have relationships and they want to be involved with somebody they love."
  • Aaron Westendorp from Minnesota is "currently involved in a committee that helps young people with disabilities to become leaders themselves. We provide the resources and materials to people in high school to begin exploring their options for the future. People would be leaders by being advocates for themselves and others."
  • Tia Nelis is a Self Advocacy Specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I work in The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities, in the Department of Disability and Human Development. I am the Self Advocacy Specialist. I work on choice, rights, and leadership."
  • Chester Finn is Special Assistant to the Commissioner, New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. "My job is to make sure that people receive the services, and if they don't, to find out what the problem is, and fix it. One of the things that has been so important to me is employment for people with disabilities at all levels. I am now working with the Commissioner on an internship that will help people with developmental disabilities obtain employment at the state level."
  • Duncan Wyeth is an Adjunct Professor at Michigan State University and teaches a survey course on Disability in a Diverse Society. "The focus is not on the medical model but how society deals with disability… I deal with everything from universal design, bioethics and modern eugenics, disability culture, social policy and disability, and so on… I focus on the Holocaust because people do not realize that all those techniques used on Jews and Gypsies were perfected on people with disabilities… So it is a very broad survey class that looks at issues of disability through the eyes of someone with a disability.