Support the Professions
In advance of the elections, candidates are aggressively campaigning, holding town hall meetings and other forums, as well as participating in meetings with the public to engage their constituencies. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists should use this opportunity to educate them on not only the professions, but to ask their support on issues identified in ASHA's public policy agenda.
Hold a Meeting
While you as an individual can meet with your elected representatives and other candidates, sometimes it is best to combine efforts with other practitioners in your area—or even members of your state association. ASHA has created a detailed step-by-step guide on how to meet with your member of Congress locally, but for some basic tips see below:
- Contact the candidate's office and ask for the scheduler. Some offices require a written request while others will take appointments over the phone. Request to meet with the member of Congress or candidate.
- Provide the reason for the meeting—that it is informational, and a request for support of a legislative initiative. Include the number of individuals planning to attend the meeting.
- If a written request is needed, make sure to follow-up with the scheduler a few days after you have e-mailed the formal request.
- The day of the meeting, make sure to bring along issue briefs and business cards.
- During the meeting, if appropriate, invite the member of Congress or candidate to tour your facility or clinic.
- Follow-up with a thank-you note and any additional information promised.
- Share your experience with ASHA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attend a Town Hall Meeting
Public forums, such as town hall meetings, allow members of Congress and candidates to discuss their legislative agenda as well as meet and hear from constituents. Information on town hall meetings can usually be found on the candidate's website, by contacting a district office, or through the local newspaper.
When attending a town hall meeting, don't be afraid to ask questions or clarification on issues important to you. When asking questions, be polite and succinct, and introduce yourself as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist. If possible, bring along policy documents or ASHA issue briefs, and leave them with either the candidate or their staff.
Submit a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed Piece to Your Local Newspaper
Another less time consuming way to advocate is by writing and submitting information for consideration to your local newspaper. Letters to the editor are one way to get your issues noticed. Congressional offices do read and notice op-ed pieces. Keep your letters brief, and state the need for Congress to take a certain action (e.g., protect IDEA funding) or share the importance of the practices in relation to particular issue (e.g., SLPs and audiologists in literacy).