8 – Grassroots Advocacy

Advocating for Implementation and Enforcement of Disability Laws

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”  Margaret Mead

Thoughtful, committed citizens who seek change: there is no more clear or concise definition of grassroots advocates than Margaret Mead’s words uttered over 50 years ago. Grassroots advocates, unlike paid lobbyists, often spend long hours at their own expense to accomplish their goals. They are often passionate about their work, and certainly persistent, because most change does not happen quickly or easily.

The goals of grassroots advocates may be implementation or enforcement of current law. Advocates may seek to work locally, such as standing up for the rights of owners to bring their hearing dogs in a taxi. Or advocates may seek to impact state or federal enforcement of a law, for example when lawsuits are filed against movie theater owners who don’t provide open or closed captions.

Grassroots advocates also work to draft new legislation when there is a need. It often takes years to get new laws on the books. Advocates need to develop a thoughtful strategy, to work with others in coalitions, and to listen to those who would oppose their work. Grassroots advocates need to know why and how to overcome opposition.

To be a good grassroots advocate:

Resources: National and Local Consumer Organizations                                                                      

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell)

3417 Volta Place, NW

Washington, DC 20007

Tel: 202/337-5220

TTY: 202/337-5221

Fax: 202/337-8314



Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA)

8038 Macintosh Lane, Suite 2,

Rockford Illinois, 61107

Phone: 815.332.1515



Hands and Voices

Business Office

PO Box 3093

Boulder CO 80307

(303) 492-6283



Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)

7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200

Bethesda, MD 20850



National Association of the Deaf (NAD)

8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820

Silver Spring, MD 20910



Telecommunications for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (TDI)

8630 Fenton Street, Suite 604,

Silver Spring, MD 20910-3822