Negative attitudes remain a major barrier to the equality of people with disability, especially when coupled with the lack of autonomy imposed on many people. This paper analyses how disability self-advocacy groups seek to change community attitudes and work towards systemic change by mobilising knowledge from their lived experience.
The paper applies a cycle of praxis community development approach (a cycle of experience, learning and reflection, synthesis and planning, and implementation and review) to conceptualise and analyse their activities. The methods were a desktop document search, focus groups and reflective analysis with members of two self-advocacy groups.
A synthesised data analysis found that applying the four-part community development framework was useful to understand the practice and the purpose of work by self-advocacy groups to change attitudes. The analysis also demonstrates the benefits for advocates and codesigned activities to intentionally apply the cycle of praxis model to guide their future efforts to change attitudes.
The research provides evidence that self-advocacy groups achieve sustained impacts on attitudes in the community, beyond the direct benefit to their members. Government investment in self-advocacy has potential to leverage wider system change in attitudes to achieve policy goals for the rights of people with disability. Methodologically, the research also has implications for the benefit of inclusive roles in reflective analysis to understand the lived experience of how practices contribute to system change. The design is an opportunity for inclusive researchers to intentionally incorporate reflective analysis into research processes.