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Let Me Hear From You

Let Me Hear From You

If Big Bird Can Do It, So Can YOU! 

By Patricia Kricos, PhD

One of the best ways to advocate in the legislative arena is direct lobbying, i.e., contacting your legislators to share your views about governmental issues, and asking them to endorse related bills that have been proposed. In a short period of time, you can call, e-mail, or write your legislators, or even better, make appointments to meet with your legislators or their staff. And NOW could not be a better time to make that contact. The 111th Congress will be in recess from August 9-September 12 for its state work period. Members of Congress use these recesses not only for some rest and relaxation, but also to meet with their constituents in their districts and states.

Regardless of how you contact your representatives, be sure that you not only “make the ask,” but also that you use one of the most subtle, yet powerful means of advocacy, namely providing information to your legislators. When you communicate with your representatives, keep in mind that although they may be quite familiar with a wide arena of issues, they probably know little about the profession of audiology, the effects of untreated hearing loss, etc. YOU are the expert in that area and one of the best ways to win over your representatives is to educate them about the profession and hearing/balance disorders, especially as related to the various bills and legislation that they may be considering.

So how does Big Bird relate to this? A few years ago, a congressional subcommittee voted to cut more than $200 million for funding public broadcasting, including over $23 million for children's educational programming, such as Sesame Street. Thanks to a million e-mails sent by the public, Big Bird and his Sesame Street friends were saved! Two of the biggest problems with advocacy for the profession include the fact that many members think their voices are not needed, since the Academy staff and leadership are probably contacting legislators, and many members presume that it takes considerable time to contact legislators. Big Bird’s success depended heavily on many voices, not just a handful. And I assure you, it takes little time to advocate and to educate your representatives. I hope you will take advantage of the upcoming Congressional recess to schedule an appointment with your representatives, perhaps inviting a patient, colleague, or student to join you. For information about contacting your representatives, go to the Academy’s Legislation Action Center. I plan to provide an update to you in the October issue of the AT E-Newsletter regarding my advocacy experiences during the Congressional recess, and hope to hear from you about how your advocacy efforts went.