The United Nations Enabled Programme states, "More than 500 million people in the world are disabled as a consequence of mental, physical or sensory impairment." Support groups exist worldwide, but an ongoing issue is economic support to sustain such entities. You can assist friends, family members and people in the community when a need arises by writing letters to advocate on behalf of the disabled. Raising awareness helps garner monetary support as well as strengthen endeavors for increasing medical attention, educational programs and actual hands-on care.
Locate the proper individual or association to whom you will address the letter. Knowing an actual contact name is always useful. If you cannot find the direct person to address the letter to, write: "To Whom It May Concern" or "To the Attention of the Chairperson" --- whatever you can find that helps move the letter beyond the initial screening, which can take extra time.
State the purpose of your letter and give specific details about either the individual or the general program, event or other situation for which you are advocating. Start your introduction using such phrases as: "I am writing on behalf of my neighbor Jerry Johnson, who is blind. We would like to address the situation of traffic signals that do not yet have sound in the city."
Expound upon your initial purpose by adding a paragraph or two describing in more detail the situation or need. If you are writing about a medical facility or home nursing group to state a concern, stick to the facts and state both the perceived cause of the problem and a proposed solution. An example is: "Sally's home health nurse has not shown up for 3 weeks and her wounds are beginning to fester. We have made several phone calls but have gotten nowhere. Perhaps you can assign a different nurse." Or: "Billy cannot drive his wheelchair over curbs. When will the ramps be put in and how can I help to expedite the process?"
Incorporate additional concerns; then, close the letter by asking that someone contact you at his earliest convenience. Provide both your contact information and that of the disabled person, after getting his approval to do so. If you are writing for someone who is not aware you are trying to help resolve his situation or you are writing on behalf of an organization or group, sign yourself as the contact person, but be sure to add pertinent details like the organization name and website.
- Actions often speak louder than words --- when you are able to attend a meeting or accompany a disabled individual to the hospital or support program, people will notice your presence as an advocate.
- When you get results, write a letter thanking the person or group you had initially contacted.
- Avoid confrontational or demanding letters. Stay on track regarding the purpose of your letter and use language that does not attack or blame. An antagonistic letter may result in a delayed response to your request.
- Helping Hands for the Disabled
- Henrietta's Dream: Helping families with disabled children
- UK Guardian: Helping more disabled people get into politics, by Mark Gould
- Learning Disabilities Association of America
- Advocacy Systems for Persons With Developmental Disabilities, by B. Jessing & S. Dean
- Pact World Advocacy and Policy Program
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