Personal Story

Feature Issue on Self-Advocacy for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

What Self-Advocacy Means to Me


Jessica Salmond is a Board Member for the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities and the PAIMI Advisory Council, and lives in Rosedale, Maryland. She may be reached at

Illustration of Jessica Salmond, self-advocate, wearing earrings and not smiling.

Being able to self- advocate has improved my life in many ways. It all started because I felt like people did not see me, all they saw was my disability. I have been speaking up for myself for as long as I can remember and I make it a point to tell people not to look at my disability but to see me as an individual. Look at what I’m capable of achieving. Advocating for myself has allowed me to sit on boards and travel to give others my perspective on things. One of those boards is the PAIMI Advisory Council, which provides legal advocacy services benefiting people in Maryland who have psychiatric disabilities. I’ve also applied to sit on a service coordination and other disability boards. I have seen a lot of growth and power and positive outcomes. Senators are starting to listen. They will talk to you and take a picture with you. When I write letters saying, “Don’t cut the funding,” they listen. Being in a self-advocacy group is a powerful movement that life has to offer you.