National Virtual Hill Day

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Location: Virtural


#DPS2020 is upon us! While we aren't meeting in-person this year, YOU can make an impact by contacting your members of Congress and being apart of our National Virtual Hill Day. Learn how to contact your members and educate them on the impact of the policy on the lives of people with disabilities. Our guide below is to support you in having your Hill visits virtually and continue to build relationships with your Members of Congress. If you have questions or need support during our National Virtual Hill Day, please contact AUCD at [email protected].


(Re)Schedule Appointments

  • Contact your Members of Congress' staffers to switch visits you had scheduled to phone meetings.
  • Use our tip sheet to help you start Contacting Congress and check out this Tuesdays with Liz episode:
  • If you had not yet scheduled your visits, contact your Members of Congress' staffer to schedule a phone meeting.
  • DC office staff not available? Contact district offices and schedule in-person (as permitted by your university policies and personal health decisions) or phone meetings.
  • Note: Members of Congress and their staffs are also responding to COVID-19 in real time, it may be hard to reach them or they may have to decline. Your kindness and patience with them is part of building a long term relationship.

Phone Meetings

  • Having a phone meeting with your group of faculty, staff, students, and trainees may be difficult if not everyone is in the room together.
  • Consider:
  • Having a smaller group hold the phone meeting
  • CC all group members on before and after emails
    • Include short introductions of the group
    • Identify which members of your group will be speaking with the staffer on the phone
    • Decide what support a person with a disability would need to be apart of the call
  • Assign other group members for one-month later follow-up call
  • Send a calendar invite with the call-in information to the staffer. Plan to call the staffer not the staffer calling you.
  • Note: Most Hill office computers do not have video cameras. This limits Zoom or Skype calls.

Pre-Meeting Emails

  • Send pre-meeting emails before the phone call meeting                
  • Use our sample as a guide:
    • We look forward to talking with you on [Phone Meeting details]. [Your Center's Name - link to your website] connects the university to the community. Our job is to meet the needs of people with disabilities through research, education, and service. Some of our work include [highlight key projects]. [Your Center's Name] is one of [67 UCEDDs, 52 LENDs, 14 IDDRCs, over 275 Inclusive Higher Ed Programs for students with ID] that form a national network. The network works on many topics that affect the lives of people with disabilities. Our work supports families in all our communities, since disability is a natural part of being human. There are many disability priority areas. During our meeting, we will share more with you about us, the work of our center, and considering people with disabilities in policy decisions. Its important for you to know that we are federally funded by [the DD Act, the Autism CARES Act, Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHHD, or HEA]. Here are appropriations factsheets from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) about the critical need to continue to invest in our center to meet the needs of people with disabilities in [Your State]:
    • UCEDD Appropriations Ask FY21
    • LEND Appropriations Ask FY21
    • Projects of National Significance (PNS) Appropriations Ask FY21
    • Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disability (TPSID) & TPSID National Coordinating Center Ask FY21
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ask FY21
    • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs) Ask FY21

Meeting Talking Points

  • Introduce yourselves, share about your center, and highlight key programs.
    • Sample Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I am ___(relationship to disability community)___.  I am at _____(university and/or program name)______ and I live in ___.  I have experience with ____.  I care about____.
  • There are fast moving policy decisions because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As disabled people, family members, and researchers, we are experts in disability in [Your State]. We are a resource to [Member of Congress] on making sure we include the needs of people with disabilities in these decisions.
  • Educate about the needs of people with disabilities in emergencies. Important to have:
    • Funding for HCBS services
    • Funding and flexibility to support Direct Support Professionals (DSPs)
    • Funding for and protection of IDEA instruction and related services
    • Flexibility for prescription drug refills
    • Twenty percent increases in SSI payment through the emergency public health period
    • Increase in SNAP and Meals on Wheels funding and expansion of eligibility to include people with disabilities
  • Through laws like the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, equal access for Americans with disabilities include ensuring continuity of operations for disability services before, during, and after public health emergencies. 

Not Able to Schedule a Meeting?

  • We understand the reality of your busy schedules during this time. We are grateful for the leadership of your boss during the crisis we are facing. We are hearing from people with disabilities (PWD), their families and the systems that serve them about critical needs in home and community bases settings and services, healthcare, and education. We would request that your boss consider how to include these issues in the next relief package to states. We are a resource to [Your Member of Congress] on making sure we include the needs of people with disabilities in these decisions. [Link to your Center's website, resources, etc.]

Post-Meeting Emails

  • Send post-meeting emails after the phone call meeting
  • Use our sample as a guide:
    • Thank you for taking the time to talk with us at [Your Center's Name - link to your website]. We know there are many priorities in Congress right now. In addition to the needs of people with disabilities in emergencies, I wanted to share legislation that could impact people with disabilities:
  • As [Your State's UCEDD, LEND, IDDRCs, or Inclusive Higher Ed Programs for students with ID], we are happy to educate you about the impact of these policies and others on the lives of people with disabilities and be a resource to you about the needs of constituents in [Your State]. We look forward to continuing to stay connected to your office.

Social Media

  • Even though a virtual meeting, it is still great relationship building do social media posts and tag Members and thank the office for meeting and talking about disability policy issues. Use our sample posts for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram:
    • #PWD want and have the right to live in their community. Thank you @[Member of Congress' Account] for supporting legislation that impacts the lives of people with disabilities! @AUCDnews
    • Today @[Your Center's Account] met with @[Member of Congress' Account] over the phone during #NationalVirtualHillDay to educate about the needs of #PWD. Thank you for your commitment to the lives of #PWD in [Your State]! @AUCDnews
  • How to find your Members' social media accounts to tag them? Check out their website! Their social media accounts are linked on their homepage. Use AUCD's guide on Getting to Know your Members
  • Follow along with all things policy by following the policy team on Twitter with @AUCDnews!