People with intellectual disability are especially vulnerable to many bad things happening in their life because of a poor capacity to foresee the consequences of actions while at the same time being held in particularly low status in the eyes of western society as indicated by the extremely low expectations society generally holds towards such people. These low expectations might be generally said to reflect the rejection felt towards someone with an intellectual disability and the many negative images and ideas that accompany such rejection from within the minds of other people.Many bad experiences can befall a person because of the negative impressions and expectations of others. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy starting with the negative ideas from almost everyone one encounters that plays itself out in real life events: being treated as an eternal child and other negative roles, being surrounded by other negative images that strip one of human qualities, having every aspect of one’s life controlled by other parties even to the point of losing freedom, losing touch with the culture and learning mostly about what is strange and peculiar, but not knowing very much about what is ordinary and typical; having most-even all- of one’s relationships with frequently changing and paid people; experiencing many events that can facilitate ones death.
These events are so negative and leave such dramatic social, emotional and sometimes physical scars, that they can be said to constitute “wounds”. (See 1) Wolfensberger, W. (1992) The New Genocide of Handicapped and Afflicted People (3rd Edn) Syracuse, NY; and 2)Wolfensberger, W. (1998). A brief introduction to Social Role Valorization: A high-order concept for addressing the plight of societally devalued people, and for structuring human services (3rd ed.).
This link to a short documentary about Citizen Advocacy from experienced leaders in Citizen Advocacy including the originator of Citizen Advocacy, Wolf Wolfensberger.
These potentials and actual experiences leave this group of people especially vulnerable because they are not in a strong position to solve and resolve these events themselves, nor do they have other relationship commitments to do so; hence the need for Citizen Advocacy. (definition by the International Citizen Advocacy Safeguards Group in 1990)
Citizen Advocacy is a means to promote, protect and defend the welfare and interests of, and justice for, persons are impaired in competence, or diminished in status, or seriously physically isolated, through one-to-one voluntary commitments made to them by people of relevant competencies.
Citizen Advocates strive to represent the interests of a person as if they were the advocates own; therefore, the advocates must be sufficiently free from conflict of interest.
Citizen Advocates are supported by the Citizen Advocacy office, and choose from a wide range of functions and roles. Some of these commitments may last for life.