Welcome from the Commissioner

AIDD Commissioner Sharon LewisDear Friends and Colleagues,

Self-advocacy has been a cornerstone of the Developmental Disabilities movement in the United States, starting over 35 years ago with the original People First organizing efforts.  The Developmental Disabilities Act makes clear the importance of the voice, influence and power of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and expects that the network that it authorizes –  the State Developmental Disabilities Councils (SDDCs), the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), and the Protection and Advocacy Agencies (P&As) –  will encourage and support the involvement of self-advocates.  Throughout the country, thousands of self-advocates are working at the local, state and national level to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Collectively, we have accomplished a great deal, but we still have much further to go to strengthen and enhance self-advocacy efforts in our states and nationally, the Commissioner of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has asked the AIDD Network to work with Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), State Developmental Disabilities Services Agencies and other state partners to hold a series of regional self-advocacy summits. The purpose of the summits is four-fold:

  1. to assess what is currently happening in the states in self-advocacy – the support structures, activities, accomplishments and challenges;
  2. to plan steps we can take to strengthen and enhance current efforts at the state level;
  3. to develop recommendations for actions that we can take at the national level; and
  4. to develop policy recommendations that can lead to a stronger, more effective, and long lasting self-advocacy movement across the country.

Our hope is that these summits will bring together the leadership of the developmental disabilities field to energize and guide our efforts to support the self-advocacy movement at both a state and national level.


Sharon Lewis

Commissioner of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Commissioner Sharon Lewis at the Summit in Atlanta, Georgia