1. Develop your message.
What do you want to see changed or improved? Are you concerned with accessibility or bills that could impact the disabled community? Educate yourself, and listen to others when issues arise. Get in touch with your local resource groups like United Spinal or My Spina-Bifida Community to see if these issues are things they are already working on, andif you can partner in some way.
2. Find the Right Department.
Many states have websites that you can access - and all you have to do is put in your address or zip code to find out who is in charge of your area. Then, you can narrow your search to the correct department or person.
3. Set up a meeting.
Call or email the office of the official you wish to speak with. Usually, a member of their staff will get back to you with a few open times to come into the office. If you do not receive a response immediately, DON’T be discouraged. Sometimes it can take up to a week for someone to get through all of the emails theiroffices receive.
4. Get Prepared.
Make a list of subjects and points you want to cover. Officials and staff are busy, and you might not have a lot of time to hold their undivided attention. Show that you are a concerned, and informed, member of the community - and come prepared with SOLUTIONS that you think would benefit the issues you are discussing.
5. Concluding the Meeting.
Ask for a business card with contact information. Do not let this meeting be the last time you speak to your official. Stay in regular contact whether it is through email, phone, or in-person meetings.
If you don’t tell your elected officials what you and your community need, they will not know there is an issue. If you don’t come prepared with a solution, they will make decisions based on what THEY think is best. Remember, people don’t know what they don’t know.