Advocacy Letter Training Project
Complaining is advocacy and helps people with disabilities claim their equal place in the community.
Purpose and Anticipated Benefits
To teach people how to write letters that accomplish their mission requires knowledge of proper letter writing mechanics and the ability to communicate clearly. These letters provide evidence of laws not being obeyed or problems unsolved.
Glen White, Dot Nary, and Richard Thomson from the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas asked volunteers from a small center for independent living to fine-tune their letter-writing skills. After judging which volunteers needed the most instruction, the three researchers then selected one man and three women of varying ages and disabilities for instruction.
The volunteers learned how to describe a disability concern, provide evidence for support, and summarize main points. They also learned to analyze problems. Sometimes a big problem could be broken into smaller problems, which are easier to solve. Next, they wrote their own letters about disability concerns. Using a rating system for effectiveness, the researchers scored the volunteers' letters.
The ratings showed that there was an increase in the percent of correct letter-writing elements for all four volunteers. The volunteers did better with items such as proper date and inside address placement than with analytical elements such as problem explanation.
White, G.W., Nary, D.E., Allada, R., Golden, K., Thomson, R., & Froehlich, K. (2000). The Action Letter Writing Portfolio. Lawrence, KS: Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas.
White, G.W., Thomson, R. J., & McNary, D. E. (1997). An empirical analysis of the effects of a self-administered advocacy letter training project. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin 41(2), 74-87.
Several presentations were made:
White, G.W., & Nary, D.E. (2002). The Action Letter Portfolio: Letters on the advocacy continuum. Great Plains ADA Symposium, Kansas City, MO.
White, G. W. (2001, June). Taking action in your communities through writing advocacy action letters. Kansas Youth Leadership Forum, Lawrence, KS.
White, G.W. & Nary, D. E. (2002, July). Writing effective letters to address your disability concerns: The Action Letter Portfolio. Region VII Americans with Disabilities Conference, Kansas City, MO.
White, G. W. (2000, October). The Action Letter Portfolio. Presented at the Region V Independent Living Conference, Rochester, MN.
White, G. W. & Nary, D. E. (1999, October). Using the action letter portfolio to advocate for community change in rural areas. The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Association for Rural Independent Living Programs, Cincinnati, OH.
White, G. W., & Nary, D. E. (1999). Advocacy: The Action Letter Portfolio.Training workshop presented at the 5th Annual National Conference on Rural Independent Living, Cincinnati, OH.
White, G. W. & Nary, D. E. (1999, August). Using the Action Letter Portfolio as a tool for community change. Kansas Disability Caucus, Topeka, KS.
Nary, D. E., White, G. W., & Thomson, R. (1997). The Action Letter Portfolio: Self-advocacy training for citizens with physical disabilities. Poster presented at the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV.
Nary, D. E., White, G. W., & Thompson, R. (1997, September). Action Letter Portfolio: Self-advocacy training for citizens with physical disabilities. American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV.
Thomson, R., White, G. W., & Nary, D. E. (1997, May). The Action Letter Portfolio: Teaching citizens with disabilities to take action on their disability concerns. Association for Behavior Analysis Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
Thomson, R. J., & White, G. W. (1996, May). Teaching advocacy letter writing skills to individuals with disabilities. Association for Behavior Analysis Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.
White, G. W., & Thomson, R. (1996, September).The Action Letter Portfolio: A social technology tool to empower consumers to advocate for their disability concerns. 18th World Congress of Rehabilitation International, Auckland, New Zealand.