Personal Story

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

What Self-Advocacy Means to Me


Ryan Duncanwood serves as a Board Member for Self Advocates Becoming Empowered's Region 2, which includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. He may be reached at

Cerebral palsy doesn't stop me. I first spoke with a letter board and then I moved on to more advanced devices. Using them is my self-advocacy and it makes me feel powerful! I’ve been involved with several organizations that work to improve communication access and technology and monitor legislation. I was invited to join the national board of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, the Arc of California board, and TASH’s Communication Workgroup. I lobbied a U.S. Congressman about Supplemental Security Income cuts, and have spoken about communication as a social justice issue. Self-advocacy and communications devices give me independence and freedom.

Illustration of Ryan Duncanwood, sitting in a wheelchair and smiling.