Getting mandated health benefits for coverage of hearing aids for children, cognitive rehabilitation, and autism related speech-language and hearing services will be a state legislative effort so your state speech-language-hearing association will be involved. There are multiple steps a state association must take in order to implement a successful advocacy campaign. This section explains those steps, which follow.
The first step is to assess your association's potential to achieve its legislative goal.
You will need to develop an organized plan or strategy. Identify an individual to chair or coordinate the campaign and a group of members to work with the chair. An effective state action plan will take 2-3 years. The components of a state action plan include:
The state association, its members, and lobbyist all have roles to play in any state advocacy effort. All parties should collaborate and work together. Establish an advocacy committee with a strong coordinator/chair who is willing and able to devote the time, energy, and commitment needed to sustain an effort.
Your state initiative will benefit greatly if your state association formulates a focused grassroots advocacy plan and develops an organized grassroots network. Policy makers must hear from their constituents and the people directly impacted by the issue. Include parents or other consumers when appropriate. Prepare user-friendly information for your members for visits with policy makers. Develop talking points that are 1-2 pages long and include facts about your issue.
Effecting change at the state level requires persistence and patience. You need committed volunteers and good communication among all advocacy partners. One common pitfall to avoid is having unclear state association priorities. Another is lack of leadership by the chair of your advocacy committee. Having limited follow through will also hamper the progress of your effort. Realize that although there may be peak activity times, such as during a legislative session, an advocacy effort continues throughout the year.