Self-Advocacy Definition and Why it Matters

Self-advocacy refers to people taking control of their own lives, speaking up on their behalf and asking for what they need. Self-advocacy is the ability to articulate one’s needs and make informed decisions about the supports necessary to meet those needs (Stodden, 2000).

Adults with high self-advocacy skills have been shown to have better outcomes in many parts of life, from education to employment and independent living. Self-Advocacy skills for students with disabilities have been linked to elevated school retention rates and more successful adult outcomes (Roberts, Ju, & Zhang, 2016).

Self-advocacy skills are important in the following ways:

  • Students who know how to problem solve and communicate achieve greater control and academic success.
  • Students who know their rights and their own strengths and needs are more willing to ask for accommodations and other support.
  • Students with self-advocacy training are more successful in gaining and retaining employment after education.

(KU Research and Training Center on Independent living)