Speakers Bureau

In a home, DVU board members sit around a long rectangular table at a meeting

Self-Advocates Speakers Bureau

Apply here by January 31, 2024

Stories told and repeated about groups of people are sometimes called “narratives.” These narratives can influence policy, media, and education. If those narratives are wrong, changing them can alter the way that people view that group. Changing narratives changes the world. 

Many of the stories our society tells about disability come from pity or inspiration. . In schools, doctors’ offices, city halls, and workplaces, people often say our disabilities mean we’re lacking something or need to be fixed.  But disability is just a reality of being human – one in four people has a disability. 

People with disabilities should be telling our own stories. That’s the idea behind the Self-Advocates Speakers Bureau! 

What is the Self-Advocates Speakers Bureau?

The Self-Advocates Speaker’s Bureau is a group of people with disabilities who are changing the world by changing the narrative around disability! Speakers Bureau members are subject matter experts in their own experiences. These experts can speak to the intersection of disability and…

  • Health care
  • Supported decision-making and alternatives to conservatorship/guardianship
  • Education and inclusion
  • Communication access
  • Portrayal of disabilities in the media
  • Disability policies
  • Transportation and community accessibility
  • Other topics as requested

In other words, any time there is a discussion about disability, it’s important to talk to a member of the Self-Advocates Speaker’s Bureau!

The Speaker’s Bureau is hosted by Disability Voices United, and made possible by grants from Ability Central Philanthropy and the WITH Foundation.


Apply here by January 31, 2024

Who can be part of the Speakers Bureau?

To join the Speaker’s Bureau, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a California resident
  • Have a disability – all disabilities are included
  • Complete a training program with three virtual training sessions

Successfully completing the training program qualifies you to apply for the Speaker’s Bureau. If you are selected, you will be listed on the Speakers Bureau website where people who need expert speakers on disability rights and justice will be able to find you.

We will also provide two mentoring sessions to new members of the Speaker’s Bureau. Your mentor can help you:

  • find speaking opportunities
  • network with other advocates
  • understand when and how much you should charge to speak

What is covered in the training sessions?

You will be trained on:

  • Telling your story in one minute
  • How to use social media to get your message out
  • How to stay on message and advocate for change
  • How to push back on ableism
  • Knowing your audience
  • How to engage in a dialogue about a topic with your audience
  • Networking with others

When are the virtual training sessions?

  • Wednesday February 21, 2024, 3 – 4:30pm
  • Wednesday March 6, 2024, 3 – 4:30pm
  • Wednesday March 20, 2024 3 – 4:30pm

We will also ask you to look at some additional materials, like short videos and handouts, in between sessions. These sessions will focus on building practical skills, like putting together talking points and creating a narrative.

Apply here by January 31, 2024

We will be reviewing the applications as they come in, so we encourage you to turn them in early! We will email you to confirm if you have been accepted into the Self-Advocates Speakers Bureau by February 5, 2024.


Note: Disability Voices United’s Self-Advocates Speaker’s Bureau trains and empowers people with disabilities  to share their stories. The media, organizations, corporations, schools, community groups, and others  can leverage the Bureau to find and book  individuals with disabilities who have compelling narratives and messages. Disability Voices United facilitates connections with potential speakers  but does not oversee their presentations, negotiate rates, or manage their contracts with organizations wanting their services.