Allies in Advocacy is a group of individuals with disabilities who came together to strengthen the disability civil rights movement, especially for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Despite 30+ years of working together, the group members noted little change in critical areas.

They said de-institutionalization efforts have dragged on for 30 years with inadequate community supports. People continue to face abuse and neglect. Viable employment and career development is barricaded by subminimum wage, sheltered workshops, and supported employment systems that short-circuit success with too little support. People with disabilities are invited to the policy decision-making table but tokenized or ignored. Funding streams go to other advocates but not people with disabilities. There is not enough organizational and leadership development support for disability groups vying for self-sufficiency.

The group sought to lead the movement, come into their own power, and be the change, instead of assisting other well-meaning advocates who sought change on their behalf. Allies in Advocacy developed A Proclamation for the Dignity and Rights of All Human Beings.

Disability Rights Washington and other Washington State I/DD Network partners listened carefully to the Allies and acknowledged them as an equal I/DD network partner. Disability Rights Washington facilitated preparation of documents, developed grants, sought interns, and delivers organizational development supports and resources so the Allies can continue to cultivate their own self-sufficiency and leadership on their terms.

With their respective seat at the State I/DD table, the Allies have advanced the disability rights movement in Washington and nationally. They accumulate allies and technically assist other disability groups who seek self-sufficiency, advocacy and leadership development. Allies in Advocacy evolves and mobilizes a strengthened and effective rights movement for people with I/DD.