What is self-advocacy?

Speaking up for ourselves and others is the heart of our work at SANYS. Self-Advocacy is speaking up for yourself. It is making your own choices in life, big and small. It is learning about your rights and responsibilities. It is living the way you want to, and respecting the right of others to do the same.

What is Self-Determination?

Self-Determination is the basic right of every person to determine the direction of their own life. Every person has hopes and dreams of their own. For too long people with developmental disabilities have been viewed as people unable to make choices about their own lives.

It is time that all people with developmental disabilities and everyone around them within their communities, their families recognize their right to create the life that they would choose. Responsive Inclusive communities and responsive services must support this fundamental right to choose.

What is Systems Advocacy?

When a person speaks up for others, they are choosing to engage in systems advocacy. As an organization founded by people with developmental disabilities, for people with developmental disabilities we believe that self-advocates must have a voice in systems change in NYS and beyond.

Systems advocacy is working to change the system for the better. It is working to improve services and communities.

It is working toward a better life for all people with disabilities. At SANYS, we believe that the well being of any community relies upon the collective success of all its members, we believe that promoting services and practices that promote the success of people with developmental disabilities ultimately strengthens communities and transforms them into places of belonging.


Self-advocacy groups provide a supportive environment where people can develop confidence and independence while working on issues that are important to them. It is important to help each other and always try to include and value the opinion of everyone in the group.

Encouraging people to make their own choices and keeping a positive attitude helps others to become empowered to be more independent. People learn leadership skills and how to effectively communicate. The activities of self-advocacy groups reflect the wishes and decisions of the group.

Self-Advocacy groups also are a place where people come together to make changes in their communities and society. People can take people problems to the policy-making and decision-making levels by working together to solve common problems, like getting access to transportation.

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