February 22, 2017

Dear Legislator,

I wanted to write you to express my concern about an issue that my family…

Dear Legislator,

Recently I found out that Oregon is considering a law that would affect the special education services of my student…

Dear Legislator,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting the needs of people experiencing disability…

However you start your letter, you have a story to tell. Moreover, legislators want to hear from their constituents – it’s their job! (You can look up who your legislators are here.)

But putting your family’s story into words can be challenging – what angle should you take? What tone? What’s your underlying message?

First of all, there are also many forms a letter can take. For example, it can be written from the perspective of your child:

A letter written to a legislator from the perspective of a child experiencing disability

Such letters are highly effective, tell a story that is engaging (not to mention cute!), and put a face to an issue.

Image of a girl smiling and holding her letter to a legislatorAnother method is to help your young person draft a letter. FACT Oregon recently made a simple template (in English and Spanish) available to families to fill out and bring with them to upcoming Go! Project’s Advocacy Days in Salem. This can be an incredibly empowering act of advocacy for a person experiencing disability!

Finally, parents and professionals who work with people experiencing disability can put their words into a story and share their unique perspective on an issue. It helps if you can break it down into manageable steps:

  1. Identify the piece of legislation, proposed budget cut, or issue that would affect your family
  2. Give a short history about your family’s experience with disability and how it is tied to the identified issue
  3. Propose a solution that would positively impact your family
  4. Thank the legislator for their time and service to their community.

Whatever form your letter takes, keep it real, be polite, and know that your words are powerful. You can make a difference!