The Power of YOUR Words

Posted on 19 August 2007. Filed under: ADA Restoration Act of 2007, Advocacy |

The Power of Words

Want to change the world? Chances are, your answer is “Yes”. Pretty much everyone, for example, would like to see an end to war and violence. Or failing that, most of us would at least like to witness an end to discrimination that makes it harder for Deaf people (and people with disabilities generally) to participate fully in society.

A few words, said or written or signed at the right place and time, are very often among the most powerful tools Deaf people (and disabled people) have in fighting for our rights. That includes the words YOU write. Even if it’s just a paragraph — five minutes of your time. Even if you know your English is bad.

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, then you know that some members of US Congress are trying to pass a piece of legislation designed to rescue the Americans with Disability Act, called the “ADA Restoration Act”. (See my earlier post on that topic at for reasons why the ADA needs to be brought back to life.)

If you read that post all the way through to the end, then you saw that there was a link to a petition that you can sign (if you are registered to vote in the United States) to support the ADA Restoration Act. If you haven’t already signed, I hope you will go do that now. For your convenience, I’m linking to that petition at the bottom of this blog post as well.

But before you click on that link, consider this: a petition signature ALONE usually does very, very little. That’s because politicians know how easy it is to sign a petition, whether you’re signing your John Hancock in pen and ink or adding your name and address to an electronic form on-line. Politicians know that many of the people who sign any petition don’t really care that much about the issue. Many people sign petitions just because their friends asked them to.

So how can you boost the power of your petition signature so that your “voice” is truly heard–and taken seriously–by our political representatives in Washington, DC?

Easy. That’s where the power of words comes in. Meaning, the power of YOUR words. When you follow the link and scroll down the page, you will see that there is not only a place to sign your name but also a place where you can enter your own comments. USE IT. Write a paragraph or two (maybe three, but keep it short) about exactly WHY you want the ADA Restoration Act to be passed. In particular, offer concrete examples FROM YOUR OWN LIFE (or the life of someone you know very well) of exactly how the ADA has failed to help you. The best examples would be examples of where you were denied your rights under the ADA because of poor precedents set by the judges and courts that weakened or diluted rights that were supposed to have been granted under the original Americans with Disabilities Act.

Go forth and use the power of words to change the world–starting with the petition at .

When you’re done signing the petition (AND ADDING YOUR COMMENTS), consider going one step further. Do you have a blog? If so, blog about how the ADA has been gutted and why it needs salvation. In your blog, include a link to the petition. (If you can also link back either to this blog post or my prior blog post on the petition, that would also be welcome.) Even a small blog with an audience of five will still reach those five friends or relatives

Don’t have a blog? Contact any bloggers you know and encourage them to blog about it. If enough people participate (and if I know who you are and where your blog is) then I’d like to eventually make another post linking to all the relevant blog entries I know of.

As it happens, I know that ReunifyGally mostly tends to reach Deaf (and deaf, Deaf-Blind, and hard of hearing people) through But the ADA Restoration Act isn’t just about Deaf (deaf/HOH) people. It’s about ALL Americans with ALL disabilities. So I hope bloggers with other disabilities will get involved, too. And, yes, I’d also love to read blog posts from our hearing, non-disabled (or “temporarily able-bodied”) allies, or our allies (with or without disabilities) in countries outside the United States.

[Want to submit your own essay for publication at Reunify Gally? It should be related in some way to reunifying or healing the Gallaudet community in the aftermath of the protests. Or, it can be related to some form of diversity within the Deaf/deaf/HOH community generally (example: racial and ethnic diversity, national origin, Deaf-Blind community, etc, see some of my other blog posts here for ideas.) If interested, review my Guidelines for Guest Bloggers and submit your essay to ashettle (at)]

[Don’t forget to support the ADA Restoration Act petition at — and be SURE to use the comments area in the petition to add your own stories of how the Americans with Disability Act has failed to help you because too many court decisions have weakened and diluted the original spirit and intent of the law. Your stories will strenthen the impact of your petition signature.]

[Interested in seeing my other, new blog on deaf and disability rights and poverty in developing countries? Check out]


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