This article focuses on collaborative research traversing disability, activism and the academy to improve understanding of service-user involvement and identity. The project was undertaken by an organisation of disabled people, some of whom are, and some of whom are not, employed by academic institutions. It is an example of research fusion between disabled people’s activism and their work within the academy. The project aimed to identify meaningful ways of promoting involvement in the development of public services. Power relationships which shape the reality of disabled people’s participation in decision-making processes within services are critiqued. We explore ways in which disabled service users and our representative organisations can drive a form of political activism within services and through the academy to improve the lives of disabled people according to the priorities of disabled people themselves. This is not simply an academic project; we identify strategies for activism and change.