The struggle by people with developmental disabilities to gain independence and equal access is a largely overlooked aspect of the social justice movement. Just as much of society finds it uncomfortable to watch and wait as someone with a disability attempts what is more quickly accomplished by someone without that disability, we also grow restless or look away when asked to consider established ideas about normalcy, ability, self-reliance, and independence.
The subjects of this documentary project actively engage the fear and ignorance behind discrimination. Because they know from history and from personal experience that no one else is better suited for the task, they choose to fight their own fight. It is a fight against deeply ingrained, systemic misconceptions, prejudices, stigmas and stereotypes. These “self advocates” use all the mechanisms available to them as citizens of a democracy, and also the enduring human qualities of compassion, hope and determination. They are sustained by something even more essential – the need to be free.