Here is a short history of the start of the international self advocacy movement, taken from the People First West Virginia website:

The movement began in Sweden in 1968 when a Swedish parent’s organisation for children with developmental disabilities had the motto: “We speak for them.”  The disabled people at the meetings decided they wanted to speak for themselves and made a list of changes they wanted made to their services. Over the next five years meetings like this took place in England and Canada.

On 8 January 1974, the People First movement began in the United States of America and they wanted to organise a convention where people with developmental disabilities could speak for themselves and share ideas, friendship and information. In the course of planning the convention, the small group of planners decided they needed a name for themselves. A number of suggestions had been made when someone said, “I’m tired of being called retarded – we are people first.” The name People First was chosen and the People First self-advocacy movement began.

There are many self advocacy groups around the world with many of these groups calling themselves People First but others have different names like ‘Speaking for Ourselves’, ‘United Together’, or ‘Advocates in Action’.