The Van Wert County Board of Developmental Disabilities is committed to self-advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities. It is also an important concept in the disability rights movement, referring to people with disabilities taking control of their own lives. This includes being in charge of their own care in the medical system. The self-advocacy movement is about people with disabilities speaking up for themselves. It means that although a person with a disability may call upon the support of others, the individual is entitled to be in control of their own resources and how they are directed. It is about having the right to make life decisions without undue influence or control by others.
People with intellectual disabilities are often some of the most powerless members of society. People with intellectual disabilities are extremely vulnerable to abuse due to their social and physical isolation. They are much more likely to suffer abuse than the non-disabled population.
Self-advocacy seeks to reduce the isolation of people with disabilities and give them the tools and experience to take greater control over their own lives. The self-advocacy movement for people with intellectual disabilities lags far behind many other civil rights efforts, such as those related to race or physical disabilities. This is due to many factors including low literacy and other communication challenges that are a barrier for people with intellectual disabilities.
The Board embraces a variety of initiatives focused on empowering the individuals it serves. It is also committed to training its staff to help guide individuals with disabilities toward greater independence and meaningful, appropriate roles in their communities.