A national group launching this week is one of a growing number of opportunities for people with disabilities to take a lead in the advocacy community.

The new group known as the National Council of Self Advocates is an initiative of The Arc and is open to the organization’s members with disabilities from across the country. It’s being billed as a chance for self-advocates to network, educate the public and become community leaders.

“This is an opportunity for us to voice our opinions and show what self-advocates across the country care about,” said Joe Meadours, one of three self-advocates who sit on The Arc’s national board and will head up the new council. “If we don’t have the proper services we won’t have a quality life.”

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While there are organizations led entirely by people with disabilities, there has been a growing movement toward including those with developmental disabilities in leadership positions traditionally held by family members, professionals and other interested parties.

In addition to The Arc, the National Council on Disability, the President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Speaks are among the groups that have tapped those with developmental disabilities to serve in recent years.

Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated that the National Council on Disability is headed by typically developing individuals. In fact, at least half of the group’s members are required to be individuals with disabilities.