WRITING AN EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY LETTER
In the main, an advocacy letter is to let the recipient know of your interest in an issue and how you want the recipient to act. An advocacy letter is rarely useful to explain an issue; rather, the recipient is usually counting the number of people for or against an issue, and if your letter is often one of many, you stand a better chance of being successful.
Writing an effective letter is crucial if you want to get your message conveyed to the recipient and to get the recipient to take the action you are advocating. Legislators, agency heads, and company leaders are inundated with many emails and letters. To increase the chances of your message being read and considered, your writing must be clear and brief.
Organise your advocacy letter into three main “talking points”:
- Identify the issue
- State what you want the recipient to do
- Elaborate on why you want the recipient to act as you are asking (that is, what this means to you and to the broader deaf/hard of hearing community)
A thank you letter is also very important when an action you are advocating is taken by the recipient.
Below are two sample letters:
LETTER TO A LEGISLATOR
1234 California Avenue
Smithtown, CA 94555
The Honorable Nancy Skinner
State Capitol, Room 2059
Sacramento, CA 95814
Regarding: Senate Bill 210
Dear Senator Skinner:
I want to ask for your support of Senate Bill 210. This bill will ensure that all Deaf and Hard of Hearing children are kindergarten-ready.
As your constituent and the mother of a deaf toddler, this bill is extremely important to me personally as well as to the broader deaf community. Deaf children are generally at a disadvantage entering kindergarten, which can make it difficult to ever get at level with their peers. Please support this bill, which will recognise the need for language benchmarks for children ages 0-5 years old.
Your support of this important legislation will strongly impact the lives of the constituents you serve.
LETTER TO AN AGENCY OR CITY OFFICIAL
1234 California Avenue
Smithtown, CA 94555
Mr. John Smith
City of Pleasanton
Regarding: City of Pleasanton’s Emergency Services
Dear Mr. Smith:
Lack of Access to Emergency Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
I am writing to you about emergency services and the lack of accessibility for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing who wish to access the City of Pleasanton Police Department via the text messaging system. I am deaf and cannot use a phone; therefore, I am unable to contact the Pleasanton Police Department either in an emergency or for non-emergency related issues.
This is not a problem that is limited solely to me. The most recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that approximately 10 percent of US residents are deaf or hard of hearing. That means in Pleasanton, approximately 5,000 or more residents are deaf or hard of hearing and unlikely able to use a phone to contact the police.
Background and Related Law
The ADA regulations in 28 CFR, §35.149, Discrimination Prohibited, explain that qualified individuals with a disability may not be excluded from participation or denied benefits of a public entity’s services, programs or activities — nor be subject to discrimination — because a public’s entity’s facilities are inaccessible or unusable by individuals with disabilities. This means that the deaf and hard of hearing must be able to access the City’s services, including police, fire and rescue.
SMS as a Proposed Solution
The City of Pleasanton is required to ensure effective communication systems, including emergency and non-emergency communications services for individuals with disabilities. The ability to utilize text messaging will support communication access to emergency services due to decrease in use of TTY and decrease in landline usage.
I strongly recommend that a SMS text service be implemented to provide communication access with the City of Pleasanton’s emergency and non-emergency communication services.
It is crucial that Pleasanton residents who are deaf, deafened, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing have access emergency services. This is critical during times of disaster – weather-related crises, earthquakes, as well as personal situations – when people require access to emergency services.
I strongly urge you to commit the necessary resources to enable residents of Pleasanton such as myself to be able to contact the Police Department using text messages.
ADVOCACY LETTERS PROVIDED BY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
- Sample advocacy letter to support keeping a hearing dog in a London flat:
(Courtesy of the San Francisco SPCA)
2. Sample advocacy letter to request captioning, with an offer to initially provide it on a limited basis:
(Courtesy of the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC)
We’d like to talk with you about including Live Captioning for your event titled “….” to take place in (location) on (day, month, year). We have an idea or two to propose that will interest you. Have you used Live Captioning before?
CCAC are citizen advocates, all volunteers, international. Read more about us on our website please: http://CCACaptioning.org
We are not a captioning company, and don’t sell services. We operate on a tiny budget. We contact selected conferences and events to see if they are accessible with live captioning or not, and if not, we may be able to “sponsor” it for a plenary session, a panel, a keynote, or similar with a CCAC Grant for Live Captioning.
Your conference (event, class, discussion) may be in-person (on site) or online. A webinar is one such event online. There are guidelines for our offer of a Grant for Live Captioning, depending on whether your group is an official non-profit, a for-profit very large event, or similar. Read some of the specifics here –
Look forward to your reply.
CCAC Member’s Name here, with
Lauren E. Storck, President of the CCAC
Please read these notes also:
For the CCAC Grant, more details: http://ccacaptioning.org/ccac-sponsorship-for-cart-a-new-captioning-advocacy-program/
- CCAC is not the providers of the captioning service, and we don’t “sell” anything – we educate and advocate for access and inclusion. However, with good advance planning (several weeks and months) we help you find a provider and when a provider is selected, they are great at helping with all planning details. That’s their expertise, doing captioning onsite or “remotely.”
- Our interest and new advocacy involves offering you up to $300. for about 3 hours of live captioning, i.e. we (the CCAC non-profit organization) pay the provider. If more service is required, that is funded by your organization and between you and the provider.
- The provider is best on-site with you – however, this can also be done from away (“remote captioning”) if there is good Internet in the room, and with you and the provider planning in advance for best audio (sound transmission) arrangements. Good audio is a must, and to be tested in advance, with a back-up system tested also.
- It’s best to have live captioning for all of the conference- including as many workshops and break-out sessions as possible. Yet the budget for that (for more than 3 hours) would be up to you.
- CCAC asks, if you apply and are given the Grant, that all your publicity for the conference, everyplace, online too, and at the event also, includes mention such as “The event/conferencewill be accessible with live captioning (or at least in part( thanks to the “Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning” (CCAC)” and mention of our web address, http://CCACaptioning.org, that invites all to join the CCAC for equality of access with captioning. We suggest you use our logo in publicity also where it fits (small blue logo of CCAC). .
- if you don’t have your own provider, we suggest you register on a CCAC service online called CaptionMatch.com – one registers, and then when you get an email that it’s processed, you go back into the online system to “place your request.” We’d be talking before you place the request probably. Our system sends out requests to all providers in our networks, and those interested reply with proposals of cost (which vary a lot usually) and we send you up to three replies.
- if you have never done this before, there’s a learning curve of preparations and on the day. The cost of live captioning varies a lot depending on the situation, content, travel or not, etc. and a ballpark figure is about 100/dollars an hour.
Live Captioning means immediate Text on a Screen for all to see, of every word that is spoken. Some call it Speech-to-Text or CART. It’s well used by international events for many years, and required for access for millions of people now with hearing loss, deafness, and for many other good reasons.Please reply with your questions and with your interest.