The Most Important Day
The Disability Policy Seminar culminates with a full day of in-person visits to congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. The purpose of the visits is to speak directly with your state’s Congressional delegation about the high-priority issues that affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
The challenges and realities facing the I/DD community demand our continued focus and diligent advocacy. Critical programs like Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security are constantly threatened, yet these federal programs provide the key to community living and inclusion for people with I/DD across the nation. Any cuts to these critical programs would be devastating.
Through visits with congressional leaders, Seminar participants can help ensure that critical programs and the civil rights of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are protected.
How To Make Your Appointments
If you are affiliated with any of the DPS partner organizations in your state, please check with them to see if they are setting up the appointments with Senators and Representatives from your state. Simply call or email their state organizations and ask if they are coordinating the DPS Hill visits.
However, if you are not affiliated with any DPS partner organization or they are not coordinating the appointments for your state, you must make your own. Here are some suggestions:
- Try to meet with your two Senators and your representative. To find your elected officials, enter your zip code here.
- Schedule your all your appointments by March 5 (this is 3 weeks before the Hill day). Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your senator/representative. Ask to speak with the scheduler. (Press to meet with the member directly. If that is not possible, meet with the legislative assistant who handles disability issues. Be sure to get the name of the legislative assistant.)
- Allow at least one hour between meetings. A meeting usually lasts about 20-30 minutes. It can take up to 30 minutes to travel between House and Senate buildings, and security can take 15-30 minutes.
- If you require accessibility services, please read the section below on “Submitting Accessibility Requests for Your Hill Visits.”
- When you arrive in Washington for the Disability Policy Seminar, call each office to confirm the specifics of your visit. We strongly recommend making these calls on Monday, as Hill visits are scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
Submitting Accessibility Requests For Your Hill Visits
Any accessibility requests, including requests for sign language services, must be made directly through the office of the senator or representative that you are planning to visit when scheduling your appointment. They should accommodate all requests.
You can find more information here http://www.aoc.gov/accessibility-services.
Tips For The Hill Meetings
Here are some tips to help you have more productive meetings with your Senators and Representative:
- Use the fact sheets you receive at the seminar to help guide your conversation. You will receive tips at the seminar for what to say and do.
- Please note that it may not always be possible to meet with your senators or representative. They have demanding schedules and you may instead have to meet with their staff. Fortunately, staff are very knowledgeable and they convey constituent information to their bosses.
- Talk about what’s most important to you – whether it’s Medicaid, Social Security, education, or other issues. Talk about how the issue or program affects your life, the life of your family, or the lives of the people you serve.
- Create a document with a picture and a brief story to help the staff put a face to the issue and to understand how people are affected by laws and policies. Here is one example.
- Wear business clothes for your meetings.
- Fill out a legislative contact form for each meeting.
Remember: Members of Congress enjoy meeting with their constituents, and they look forward to hearing your views. They will expect you to know more about the subject than they do. Don’t be afraid to make those appointments now!