Communicating with Elected Officials

In a dusty street, a man using a wheelchair is wearing a blue vest and is talking to reporters holding video cameras.

When conducting an advocacy campaign, there is often a need to communicate with elected officials. Campaigns are good opportunities to connect with elected officials about the issues that are important to the disability community in your country, and some elected officials may even be persuaded to become allies or supporters of your campaign.

This resource provides an overview of the different ways that organizations can communicate with elected officials, such as information packets, letters, or petitions. It also provides some guidelines to consider when writing a position paper, drafting documents for the media, or meeting with elected officials. A few examples are excerpted below:

  • Explain the problem. Describe the problem for which you are suggesting political action. Use as much number-related (quantitative) data as possible.
  • Propose a solution. Clearly describe the political action you want the elected official to take (for example, supporting a new law). Be sure to anticipate and address any objections that might come up.
  • Try to keep your conversation focused on a few basic points. If the elected official changes the topic, gently return to your main point.
  • Ask the elected official or policy maker to do something specific to show support for your issue. Try to get a commitment.
  • Write a thank you note and confirm any promises the elected official made during the meeting.
  • Host an event and invite an elected official whose support you are seeking. You can create a valuable opportunity for them to speak and this may help in getting their support.
  • It is helpful to have members of your group or allies, preferably lawyers, receive training on drafting legislation. Legislative drafting should be included in the skill set of disabled persons’ organizations, even if it is not generally done outside of the government in your country. The government will often not respond to your organization’s attempts to get a bill drafted, so it is crucial to be able to do it yourself.
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