Oral histories of ‘self advocates’ with developmental disabilities added to UC Berkeley Library

The disability history program in the Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) has added a new collection of oral histories of leaders in the self-advocacy movement, led by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The collection documents the life stories of 13 self-advocacy leaders across the United States.

“As a whole, the collection is perhaps the most in-depth exploration of the transformative impact and cultural meaning of the self-advocacy movement,” says Tamar Heller, president of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. “Spanning over six decades, the life stories of self advocates document how far we have come as a society, while reminding us how much further we still must go.”

The self-advocacy collection is available online. It includes interview transcripts, as well as captioned video-taped excerpts accessible to individuals who have difficulty reading.

“It’s critical for youth with disabilities to have a strong sense of history, identity, and disability pride,” says Jonathan Young, chair of the National Council on Disability. “The use of technology and social media to share these stories of self advocates will have powerful impacts on our community and the next generation of leaders.”

The self-advocacy project was led by Joe Caldwell, adjunct professor of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and made possible with support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education. Caldwell and participants donated the material for inclusion in the Bancroft Library’s larger collection on the history of the disability rights and independent-living movement, containing more than 100 oral histories of artists, activists, and scholars.

Go to the oral-history collection on:

• leaders with developmental disabilities in the self-advocacy movement

• the broader disability-rights and independent-living movement