Thursday, September 24, 2009

You MUST Write Your Representative! Here's How!

Caption Action 2 can not stress enough how important it is to write your representative. Congressional offices want to hear from the people that the Representatives represent. They often ignore messages from people who do NOT live in the area that the Representative represents. But, they really do pay attention to people who live in their area. Jamie experienced this when she stopped in her own representative's office last week. As soon as she mentioned where she lived, the people in the office jumped up and paid attention to her.

We are aware that it is one thing to tell people "Write your representative," it is another to actually do it! Some people need step-by-step instructions on how to do it. So below, we present a simple, clear step-by step example of how to email your representative.

Start by entering into your browser.

This takes you to a page that looks like this:

Now select the state or territory you live in, and enter your zip +4. (Don't know the last 4 digits of your zip code? Use the Postal Service's Zip+4 Lookup) Then click the "Contact My Representative" button. For this example, we used Gallaudet University's zip code.

This takes you to a first form that you must fill out with your name, address, and city at a minimum. Then click "Continue to Text Entry Form." (It does not always work exactly the same for each representative. Caption Action 2 found that the system jumped directly to our own representative's website mail form.)

The text entry form looks like this:

Enter your message, and click the "Send" button.

What can you enter? It is best to write straight from the heart so it does not look like a form letter, but some people prefer a form letter that they can partially customize. Below is a copy of a sample letter that was posted on the COAT website:

Ensure Equal Access to the New Technologies and Innovations of the 21st Century for People with Disabilities

Please Co-Sponsor H.R. 3101,
the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009

[Today’s date]

Dear Representative [Last Name]:

I am a person with a disability and I want to be a part of the revolution in the way Americans interact, learn and conduct business using the new digital communications devices, television and the Internet. However, the wizardry of the wires and the sophistication of software programs often do little for those of us who need accessibility due to vision, hearing or other disabilities. Recently, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101), was introduced. This legislation would ensure that all Americans have equal access to these exciting and innovative new technologies. It would enable me to [insert some personal details about how you would benefit].

H.R. 3101 would amend the Communications Act to ensure that new Internet-enabled telephone and video services and equipment are accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities. From extending hearing aid compatibility and Internet closed captioning to real-time text support for emergency services, H.R. 3101 seeks to provide a smooth migration to the next-generation of Internet-based and digital communication technologies. For more information, see a one-page summary at and a section-by-section summary at

Please co-sponsor this bill so I can access and use phones and television like everyone else.



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