The Riot!


Helping self-advocates direct their lives and shape public policy

Since 2004, we have provided production support and creative direction for a newsletter written by and for self-advocates – people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who speak up for themselves and promote the rights of others living with disabilities. The Riot! tackles tough issues that affect people’s daily lives, but it’s equally well known for its offbeat humor, romance advice, puzzles, and more. The Riot! also provides a platform for us to work with self-advocates in many ways.


The Riot! is nationally known among self-advocates, family members, providers, support staff, policy makers, and others.  “Riot style” writing and presentations provide self-advocates a candid, plainspoken platform for improving their self-advocacy skills, organizing with other self-advocates, and acting to shape policy and practice. 

  • Technical Assistance and Training
  • Communications
  • Dissemination

Offering news, opinion and more

HSRI staff have been working since the 1990s to support the efforts of self-advocates, and The Riot! is a centerpiece of that effort. The Riot! is NOT your typical policy newsletter. It's a lively eight pages of information and fun. Our goal is to be insightful, but also to incite action and discussion among self-advocates and others in our field. 

We tackle important disability issues, encouraging approaches that promote integration and self-determination. Every issue focuses on a timely topical theme. We also cover common life topics, such as dating, health and everyday fun. In addition, readers enjoy regular features such as:

  • Editorial columns written by self-advocates
  • A romance advice column
  • Horoscopes
  • Word Puzzles tied to particular educational themes
  • Craig’s opinionated take on life
  • Political cartoons
  • The Riot! Action Page” where suggestions are given to encourage self-advocates to act together to improve their lives.

We distribute The Riot! by email to over 3,000 people across the country, and to many others via social media. And many recipients share it with others. Self-advocates, family members, direct support staff and others all tell us they love The Riot!

Providing useful self-advocacy materials

We know that self-advocates across the nation are working hard to push the self-advocacy movement forward. That’s why we have lots of fun tools-you-can-use to strengthen your self-advocacy group, talk about important issues, and have fun at the same time!

We offer toolkits for trainings on many different topics that are important to self-advocates. The Riot! offers three toolkits: Self-Determination and You,  Planning and Giving a Presentation: A Guide for Self-Advocates, and Working Together for Change. These toolkits can be used by individuals or self-advocacy groups. 

Jabbers games are a fun way to get people talking about what they want in their lives and how to get it. The games are meant for self-advocates, but anyone can play. Parents, family, friends, staff can join in, too. And they are free! Get all six Jabbers games

Featured projects image
The Riot newsletters feature timely content. The latest issue focuses on concerns around proposed cuts to public supports and the potential impacts to people with disabilities - and the activism and advocacy efforts to prevent these.

Providing means for self-advocates to exchange ideas

HSRI occasionally hosts national teleconferences that feature self-advocate speakers.  These teleconferences cover popular themes important to self-advocates, such as on dating and romance, best practices for supporting self-advocacy groups, increasing employment opportunities, and most recently on the status of disability policy nationally.

Riot Chatter! is a blog spot where we feature the thoughts and opinions of Angela West.  Angela hails from Virginia and is an outspoken disability rights advocate.

Providing training and technical assistance

Our purpose is always to help people with developmental disabilities to become strong self-advocates. To help people succeed, we can facilitate meetings of people with developmental disabilities and provide training or technical assistance on a many different topics. 

For example, we can provide training or technical assistance on

  • Self-Advocacy
  • Self-Determination
  • Leadership
  • Planning a Presentation
  • Giving a Presentation
  • Evaluating State Service Systems
  • Planning and Acting to Change Service Systems
  • Setting Up Peer Support Networks
  • Developing Healthy Friendships and Romantic Relationships
  • Helping self-advocacy groups to get stronger
Project Partner(s):

Self-advocates, including Angela West

How can we help?

Let's talk