The following tips can help you organize your advocacy message and contact your legislator in person, in writing, or by phone.
A personal visit is the most effective means of communicating with a legislator as it gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them.
Here are some tips on providing testimony about legislation and other public policy issues.
Public testimony is an effective way to help policymakers understand how an issue affects people, presents difficulties, or addresses needs. Public testimony also lets you show support or opposition to specific bills under consideration by legislators.
Public speaking can be scary, especially for people who don’t have much experience. But with some preparation, giving public testimony can be simple.
Most committees will limit the time for witnesses (that’s you), so expect to have three minutes. Decide what you want to say in advance, and then practice, practice, practice!
Practicing what you’re going to say in front of a mirror can help you get comfortable with your testimony and decide on the words you want to use. To help get used to speaking to a large you, you could practice in front of your friends or family. This will also give you a chance to get feedback on how to improve your message.
Preparing two versions of your testimony is a good idea. One version should summarize your message in three minutes. You can also write a longer version to give to legislators after sharing your summary. If you take written testimony with you, call the committee office to find out how many copies you will need. If you do not have time to type up your testimony or make copies, you should still testify.
Not sure where to start? Use the My Testimony Blueprint (PDF) to begin writing your testimony.
When you get to a hearing, there should be a sign-up sheet for you to indicate you want to give testimony. Speakers are taken in the order they sign in, but legislators, state agency representatives, and invited speakers are usually allowed to testify first.
If you do not wish to speak, you can fill out a testimony card to state your position on an issue. You can also submit your testimony in writing instead of speaking.
In the following videos, TCDD Public Policy Director Scott Daigle provides an overview of the Texas Legislature Online website. Learn how you can use the website to search for bills and track activity in the Texas Legislature.
Use the following image and links to view and download an infographic that explains the Texas legislative process.
Texas Partners in Policymaking is TCDD’s advanced leadership training program for self-advocates and family members of people with developmental disabilities (DD). Through accessible and interactive training sessions, participants develop leadership skills to create partnerships with elected officials and other policymakers who make decisions that impact people with disabilities across Texas. Participants develop innovative projects that improve the lives of people with DD in their communities. Ultimately, graduates of the program work to impact policy and change systems so more people with DD are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. Some graduates even go on to become policymakers themselves.
Application periods for the annual classes usually begin in January. To receive updates about future application periods, subscribe to our newsletter and connect with Partners on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Our Disability Policy Academies provide policy professionals and community advocates with deep educational dives into disability-related topics. Participants have opportunities to learn the background of an issue, hear from leading experts, and leave with action steps they can implement in their own work.
To learn about upcoming programs and view recordings of past programs, visit Disability Policy Academies.
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