Organization Promotes Self-Determination for People with Disabilities Through Its Regional Affiliates

Building self-determination capacity among people with disabilities

From 1997 to 1999, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, a Nashville, Tenn.-based organization promoting greater self-determination for its developmentally disabled members, fostered collaboration among representatives from its nine regional affiliates, allowing them to share lessons learned in promoting self-determination and in using self-determination as a principle to reform state policy.

Key Results

  • Project staff developed a website which includes links to other pertinent sites, resource materials and an on-line newsletter.
  • Project staff developed, and for approximately two years operated, a toll-free telephone number that helped to update members on ongoing campaigns in various states, including efforts to close state institutions for the developmentally disabled.
  • The organization helped develop training materials called the Self-Advocacy Tool Kit and a video entitled Tools for Building a Self-Advocacy Group, which it provided to the 42 state Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered chapters. Additional copies of the training packet and video are expected to be sold separately to groups such as state developmental disability agencies, local self-advocacy groups and professionals in the field.
  • The grant also funded transportation for some of the organization's 18 regional representatives—two from each of its nine regions—to attend quarterly Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered meetings around the country.
  • Project staff developed leadership skills among self advocates, who used those skills to work with state policy-makers who had received grants from the national program office of the RWJF $5-million national program, Self-Determination for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, to help states implement a more cost-effective system while simultaneously allowing families and persons with developmental disabilities more choice in determining the services received.