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Taking the plunge of self-advocacy... some considerations and thoughts about the self-advocacy movement

Ludo Schoeters, the Flemish self-advocacy group: Our New Future
Co-author(s): Dries Cautreels, Ghent University

Powerpoint presentation


During the months September and October, Dries had the opportunity of staying in and around Sheffield for his internship at the Inclusive Education and Equality Research Centre at the University of Sheffield. During this time he was, among other experiences, able to get in touch with some self-advocacy groups (6). The idea for these meetings was 'sending Dries to Mars'. It originated from the idea that the Flemish self advocates would send him 'across the channel' on some sort of a voyage or discovery, since we can speak of quite a long history of the self-advocacy movement in the U.K (Goodley, 2000; Hersov, 1996). It was Dries' task to search for some other self advocacy groups and take a look at e.g. how everything was organised, if there were advisors and - if yes - what role they had; if the groups also organised leisure time activities; which viewpoints were taken...These questions were considered and decided through dialogue between Dries and some of the Flemish Musketeers (Roets et al, 2004). During the internship they were able to stay in touch via email (exchanging plans; ideas and remarks; considerations...) to keep the dialogue vivid. After coming home, the two presenters were more than happy to sit together and discuss the experiences, explain remarks and considerations to each other, think about what could go wrong or what they consider as key points of self-advocacy, etc.

In this presentation we want to take a closer look at the movement and its strengths as we look at it and at some of the issues that seem important to us when considering self-advocacy, being:

  • The role of advisors
  • A recognisable overload
  • An institutionalisation of self advocacy?
  • Entanglement of names
  • Self advocacy is not the same as 'advocacy'
  • Self advocacy is not the same as 'a social skill training'
  • Who are the members?
  • What can and what cannot be done?
  • One organisation? An umbrella organisation? Many different divisions?
  • Financially


Goodley, D. (2000). Self-advocacy in the lives of people with learning difficulties: the politics of resilience. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Hersov, J. (1996). The rise of self-advocacy in Great Britain. In Dybwad, G. & Bersani, H. (red.) New voices: self-advocacy by people with disabilities. Cambridge: Brookline Books.

Roets, G., Van de Perre, D., Van Hove, G., Schoeters, L. & De Schrauwer, E. (2004). One for all - all for one. An account of the joint fight for human rights by Flemish Musketeers and their Tinker Ladies. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32, 54-64.

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