Advocate for yourself in any situation.

What is Self-Advocacy?

The term “self-advocate” can seem like a scary concept. Some people imagine long time commitments, or marches to Jefferson City. However, what it truly means is having the right to speak up and discuss things that affect you. Sometimes these are uncomfortable conversations with people who are considered experts. However, if you do not express what is important to you, no one else will know. This could include asking your doctor questions, following up with your case worker about funding for programs, or talking with your teacher about your future goals.

The St. Louis Arc offers a variety of ways for you to strengthen yourself advocacy skills, so that you can become your best advocate.


Exercising your right to vote is an important piece to self-advocacy. The first step to voting in local, state, and national elections is to ensure you are registered to vote at your current address. You are able to look up your voter registration status online.  If you are not registered to vote or need to update your voting address, you can do so online or you can go to your nearest Department of Motor Vehicle office, Social Security Office, or Post Office to register in person.  If you need help to register to vote, please contact Ann Mangelsdorf  at 314-817-2275.

Social Justice Committee

The St. Louis Arc’s Social Justice Committee is a group of individuals with developmental disabilities and their allies who meet monthly to discuss and act on community and legislative issues impacting our lives at the local, state, and national level.  To attend our next meeting, contact
Ann Mangelsdorf, Assistant Director of Family Support & Advocacy, at 314-817-2275.

St. Louis Self-Advocates

The St. Louis Self-Advocates are St. Louis area youth seeking to empower each other, to increase awareness about disability-related issues, and improve our community. Our members are St. Louis area residents between the ages of 14 and 29 who have a diagnosed disability. The group’s committees reflect the goals and vision of the group: 

  • Advocacy: to improve the lives of people with disabilities through thoughtful political engagement
  • Quality: to improve the services provided to people with disabilities through participation in agency leadership, staff training, and more
  • Morale: to create a sense of community and friendship among membership
  • Marketing: to increase awareness and bring attention to the group’s activities

The group meets every Thursday from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. For more information or to sign up, email Madeline Webster.

Flash Mob

Every March, in conjunction with the national “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, St. Louis Arc participants, staff, and community members join together for a flaMan holding a signsh mob. Self-advocates work in collaboration to choose a song and learn a choreographed dance. They then visit local schools, corporations, and community spaces, and perform their routine, while spreading the message of inclusion. Contact Sharon Spurlock, Director Family Supports, at 314-817-2222 to join the fun.

Missouri ABLE Accounts

Missouri ABLE Accounts are now available for people with disabilities. This tool can help people save money, without penalties to their Medicaid benefits. Learn more about how you can plan and save for your future.

Individual Rights and Responsibilities

Individuals and family members receiving support from the St. Louis Arc are afforded basic individual rights. As a government funded and CQL accredited agency, the Arc ensures individuals are able to exercise these rights to the fullest extent. Additionally, the Arc incorporates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and the constitution into the agency’s practices. Download the full Rights and Responsibilities document for more information.