The Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO) believes in and supports self-advocacy in all we do. Under each of our programs, one of our priorities is to promote the integration and self-determination of persons with disabilities in the community. This means that we support people with disabilities to gain the skills they need to direct their own destiny. GAO provides people with disabilities with numerous tips and strategies to practice and use self-advocacy skills. In this regard, the GAO does not “do for” people with disabilities; rather, the GAO “does with” people with disabilities.
First and foremost, self-advocacy is planning your own destiny and speaking for yourself. It is about creating the quality of life that you want for yourself. It is the tool people use to make a difference in their own lives. Once the foundation of self-advocacy has been laid, then self-advocates can move on to one of the other four types of advocacy: Individual Advocacy, Group Advocacy, Systemic Advocacy, and Legislative Advocacy (see other forms of advocacy for definitions). Self-advocacy is often linked to people with disabilities; but in truth, self-advocacy is not limited to only people with disabilities because people without disabilities also self-advocate in creating the life they want for themselves.
Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) says this about self advocacy: “It teaches us how to make decisions and choices that affect our lives so we can be more independent. It also teaches us responsibilities. The way we learn about advocating for ourselves is by supporting each other and helping each other gain confidence in ourselves so we can speak out for what we believe in.”