The Riot!

Helping self-advocates direct their lives and shape public policy

From 2004 to 2020, we 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! tackled tough issues that affect people’s daily lives, but it was equally well known for its offbeat humor, romance advice, puzzles, and more.


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

  • Technical Assistance and Training
  • Communications
  • Dissemination

News, opinion, and more

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

We tackled important disability issues, encouraging approaches that promote integration and self-determination. Every issue focused on a timely topical theme. We also covered common life topics, such as dating, health and everyday fun. 

The Riot! was emailed to over 3,000 people across the country, and to many others via social media. 

Pre-social-media idea exchange

Before the rise of social media, The Riot! served as one channel for self-advocates to exchange ideas. Riot Chatter!, a blog spot, featured the thoughts and opinions of Angela West. (Angela hails from Virginia and is an outspoken disability rights advocate.)

Today, social media platforms and networking apps offer multiple ways for people to self-advocate and to spread information about inclusion and accessibility. Through in-person and online activism, self-advocates continue to shine a powerful spotlight on disability rights, access, and representation.

If you're looking for a past issue of The Riot!, or one of the toolkits, please contact us

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