ODA Action TIP
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE
ACTION TIP dd July 15, 2003
Posted July 23, 2003
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE ACTION TIP
ODA Committee Launches New "Letters To The Editor Blitz" To Newspapers Across Ontario About Disability Issues In The Upcoming Provincial Election
July 15, 2003
The ODA Committee is here launching a new province-wide summer blitz, using email to write letters to the editor of newspapers right across Ontario. This will build on our recent successful campaign of writing letters to the editor specifically to the Toronto Star.
This Action Tip gives you all the information you need to quickly and easily join in this new blitz in our ongoing Barrier Busters Campaign. Our ultimate theme is our ongoing goal of making Ontario a barrier-free society in which all persons with all kinds of disabilities can fully participate and be fully included.
Write to your local paper and as many other newspapers as possible. Let them know about the disability issues that matter to you in the upcoming provincial election. Get others to do the same.
Recent media reports suggest that the upcoming provincial election could be called as soon as mid-August, for a vote in mid-September, either September 18 or 25. The ODA Committee wants to take advantage of these summer days to get more coverage on disability issues that are important to you, leading up to the upcoming provincial election. Newspapers are now hungry for news stories.
Over the past week, ODA supporters did a tremendous job of emailing letters to the editor of the Toronto Star. This helped encourage the Star to keep up its excellent coverage on important disability issues including the need for a strong, effective ODA to remove barriers that continue to impede persons with disabilities in Ontario.
We now want to build on our success. Let's broaden this campaign. We encourage you to email letters to the editor of your own local newspaper, and to other papers around Ontario. Raise disability issues that are important to you including the ODA issue.
Below you will find some suggestions of what you might wish to include in a letter to the editor. You will also see tips on how to improve your chances of getting your letter published. At the end of this email you will find a list of email addresses for letters to the editor at newspapers all around Ontario.
By joining in our new province-wide "letters to the editor blitz," you accomplish two important goals. First, if your letter gets published, then this provides instant media coverage for disability issues like the ODA issue. Even if your letter does not get published, your effort still helps our cause. Every time a newspaper gets a letter to the editor on disability issues like the ODA issue, it helps educate them on these issues. This helps encourage the newspaper to cover these issues.
It also helps if you can circulate this action tip to friends and family. Encourage them to join in this broadened "Letters to the Editor Blitz."
These weeks in the middle of the summer are an especially excellent time for this campaign. There are fewer news items filling the newspapers when the Legislature is in recess. Other major news stories, like the SARS crisis, have slowed down.
If you are really eager, you might contact your local paper and see if you can submit a guest column or "Op-Ed" piece. The term "Op-Ed" refers to the fact that these guest columns often appear on the page opposite the newspaper's official editorials. Op-Ed columns usually run around 750 words and are much longer than a letter to the editor. To see examples of guest columns on the ODA that ODA supporters have had published over the years, you can visit the ODA Committee website at:
Let the ODA Committee know if you send in a letter. Let us know if it gets published. You can contact us at:
Our greatest successes over the past eight and a half years have happened when people like you join in a blitz like this!
WHAT YOU MIGHT INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Here are some ideas. Pick and choose the ones that appeal to you most, or come up with your own.
- Explain that in the upcoming election the needs of 1.9 million people with disabilities, many of whom are voters, will be important to you.
Encourage them to include disability issues in their coverage of the election, and of Ontario provincial politics.
Tell the newspaper about the disability issues that are important to you. Among these you may wish to mention the ODA issue. We need a strong, effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act to make Ontario barrier-free for 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities.
The Conservatives promised that Ontario would become barrier-free. They promised to pass the Ontarians with Disabilities Act back in 1995. They later promised that this law would be "strong and effective."
The Conservatives stalled on these pledges until 2001. In 2001 they passed a weak, limited and voluntary ODA that applies only to the public sector, not the private sector. In the upcoming election, the Liberals and NDP promise to enact a strengthened ODA within one year that will apply to all sectors, and that will make the removal and prevention of barriers against persons with disabilities mandatory, not voluntary.
* If you are writing to the newspaper in your own community, talk about barriers in your own community that you need removed. Explain why removing these barriers is good for your community.
* Tell the newspaper about the excellent coverage of this issue in the recent editions of the Toronto Star. Encourage your local newspaper to do similar coverage of barriers in your community, and to show how much the community would benefit from enabling persons with disabilities to fully participate.
PRACTICAL TIPS ON WRITING A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
* Keep your letter short -- no longer than 200 words, and it is even better if it is 100 words or less. That is why you can only pick and choose from the ideas we listed above, or from other disability issues you might wish to focus on.
* Don't worry if you are not familiar with all the detailed background of the ODA issue, and the history of what has gone on over the past eight and a half years. Keep your message simple, straightforward, and to the point.
* Assume that your reader, and indeed the newspaper's editor, does not know anything about these disability issues. They also do not know terminology like "ODA" or "ODA Committee."
* Give practical examples from your own life and from your own community. Newspapers like to emphasize these.
* Link your letter to a recent article in that newspaper if possible. If you are writing to each paper in Ontario, then at least refer generally to their coverage of the issues in the upcoming Ontario provincial election. You might visit a newspaper's website to get access to some of their recent articles on provincial issues, if you do not subscribe to the paper yourself.
* Express your feelings firmly, but use language that is appropriate for publication in a newspaper.
* If you are going to write the same letter to several newspapers, be sure to send each newspaper a separate email. Do not "cc" or copy the same letter to several newspapers. They will be less interested in your letter if you appear to be blanketing many newspapers with the same letter.
* Include your contact information such as your phone number so they can contact you. Newspapers sometimes check with you before printing your letter.
ALPHABETICAL LIST OF EMAIL ADDRESS LINKS FOR SENDING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR TO NEWSPAPERS ACROSS ONTARIO
(list courtesy of DAWN Ontario)
Links to Recent Media Coverage on the ODA
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Last updated July 23, 2003