Letter writing is a great advocacy tool as it gives you time to think and analyse your thoughts before you put them on paper.
Writing a letter on an important issue is a process that requires some planning. This post will help you write an effective letter when advocating for your child with special needs.
Define your advocacy goal
Your first step is defining your goal or objective. What do you want to achieve by writing this letter? You should have a specific goal or objective that you want to convey in the letter.
Evaluate your position or argument
Once you have determined your objective do a SWOT analysis to see the strengths and weaknesses of your position as your letter will need to address these.
When you state what you want in your letter you need to tell the reader why – you need your objective. You should also briefly state any information you have that supports your position.
Since you have done a SWOT analysis, you will have some idea of any opposition or resistance youare likely to encounter. In your letter, try to neutralize or offset the opposition’s major points through facts, laws and/or policies. You don’t have to address every point the opposition might raise – just the major points.
In the final paragraph of your letter state exactly what you want to happen. Also, give the other party a timetable for when you expect them to take this action.and what timetable you expect. For example: Based on the points outlined above, it is imperative that you plan a social skills training programme for John and implement it by the start of the next semester.You should also state your next step here. (I will call you on Thursday the 10th.) Finally, thank the person for their consideration/assistance.
- Be brief
- Be polite
- Stick to the facts and do not embellish them
- After you have written your first draft, take a break and let your letter sit for a few hours or overnight. Then, read it again when you are “fresh” and make any necessary changes.
- Type your letter or have a friend or family member type it
- Have someone proof your letter for spelling and grammar
- Ask a friend to read your letter to check if it is easy to
understand the points you are making
- Enclose copies of any relevant documents – those that support what you are trying to achieve with your letter
- Keep a copy of your letter
- Consider sending it registered or certified mail.
- If the matter is urgent, fax or email a copy of the letter
and then post the original.
- Put a date in your diary/phone to remind you to follow-up if
you have not had any response to your letter.