Often, when I talk with people about OT advocacy, they are interested but not really sure where to start. They also want to avoid a big time commitment. Here's a few super-quick ways for super-busy people to still take action.
First of all, are you an AOTA member? Because if you care about OT being represented on a federal level especially, then you need to join. AOTA (just like other professional organizations like the AMA) can only claim to represent the practitioners who are actually members, not all the OTs in the country. Also, the political action committee, AOTPAC, cannot take money from non-members. So if you're an non-member OT/A who benefits from the work that AOTA is doing (and you probably do), that would make you dead weight. Don't get offended, just get active. TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes to setup
AOTA has this great resource called the legislative action center. Using this literally can take less than a minute, and still is a way to make a big impact. I get an email from an AOTA staffer describing an action alert- here recently it was the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act (HR 1037). (sidenote, when your job title is in the title of the bill, it is a BIG DEAL. Action cannot be delayed.) Staffer sends a link to the action center, and since I am already a registered user, it knows from my saved zip code who all my senators and representatives are. Then it provides me with a form letter (which I usually change, and is why it takes longer than 1 minute) and automatically emails it to all the right people. Baddabing, baddaboom, it's done. Occasionally I get an email (or even a letter!) back from the congressperson's office. And your representatives seriously do care what you think on issues. There are so many bills in and out everyday, they don't read them all, and if a constituent has an opinion, that can sway their vote. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes to setup, 1 minute or less thereafter
Social media is changing how issues are communicated. As it is now, I get detailed emails from the state legislative staff (by virtue of my Advocacy VP position in my state organization) but I can't read them all in-depth. What I do read are the Stop the Therapy Cap facebook posts, and the updates I get on twitter from the organization and legislative staff. I'm already on those sites, and getting a quick update on where the issues stand as I'm browsing through is so simple.TOTAL TIME: 2 minutes to setup, 1 minute or less thereafter
In the same way that social media has affected our information acquisition, so has mobility/portability. I like things I can do from my phone instead of tied to my computer. So while I know I can look up online various bills and what my reps are doing, there's an app for that- (and it's a free one!) called Congress (Android and Windows) or MyCongress (Apple). The free app helps you find your reps via zip code and allows you to favorite them, giving you quick access to how they're voting, their committees, and a way to contact them. You can also favorite bills to check their status. If you're super involved you can get push notifications on when committees are meeting or when a hearing is going to happen for your bill. TOTAL TIME: 2 minutes to setup, 2 minutes or less thereafter
So many people are afraid to get involved with advocacy efforts. Don't be! By virtue of being an OT practitioner, you are an expert in OT! Share that expertise with the people in power using these quick methods. Feel free to share your preferred ways to advocate or other advocacy questions/concerns you have in the comments below.
Want to do Advocacy? There's Something for Everyone by AOTA
AOTA Advocacy section
Lifehacker article How to Discuss Politics Without Sounding Like an Idiot (has info on the apps)