We work with national organisations to develop self-advocacy in their countries and we support self-advocates directly to advocate for their rights at important global events.

Example 1 - Turkey

We trained a group of self-advocacy facilitators from Down Turkey and over 10 months supported them to establish and run a self-advocacy group for people with Down syndrome.

Self-advocates from the group have spoken at the UN in New York and the Turkish Parliament and been interviewed on Turkish CNN. Read more about our Turkey project here:

Turkey self-advocacy

Example 2 - Global Disability Summit

We worked with self-advocates from around the world to develop a statement on employment for people with Down syndrome. The statement was presented by Emeric Jeanjean, a self-advocate with Down syndrome, at the Global Disability Summit hosted in London in July by the International Disability Alliance and the UK and Kenyan Governments. Read more here:

Global Disability Summit

Example 3 - Self-advocacy programme at WDSC

We ran 6 self-advocacy workshops over 3 days at the World Down Syndrome Congress in Glasgow. The workshops were attended by over 70 people with Down syndrome from around the world and covered themes including community, human rights and speaking up.

The workshops supported self-advocates to relate difficult subjects such as human rights to their life experiences. There was a high level of enthusiasm and engagement in the subjects and some very interesting insights from different countries.

The challenge

People with Down syndrome often have a limited voice in the decisions and changes that affect them. Decisions are often made without consideration of their opinions and preferences, and as a result their rights are frequently violated.

What we do

We promote the development of self-advocacy around the world through:

  • Training national Down syndrome organisations to establish and support self-advocacy groups;
  • Organising events and opportunities for self-advocates with Down syndrome to speak and have their voices heard;
  • Establishing global campaigns and supporting self-advocates to take part in them.

Long term impact

"A self-advocate speaks up for themself. I have learned to stand on my own two feet" - Senam, self-advocate, Turkey

For a person with Down syndrome self-advocacy is about developing their skills, knowledge and self-confidence to be able to engage with people effectively, take part in work or social situations, and understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens. It is also about taking action and advocating for change, whether at personal, local or national level.

For many people with Down syndrome self-advocacy has a profound impact on their lives – providing them with the confidence to take control and participate in their communities with confidence.