The term “armchair activism” gets a bad wrap. It’s an ableist term for people who are politically active on social media, but who don’t get out in the streets to protest, where it may be dangerous. For those of us who live with chronic illness, however, armchair activism can be one of the only ways that our voices are heard.
Fortunately, there are people who want to make sure that our community and its valuable insights are not ignored by our legislators. These free services are available to help us be politically active.
Resistbot turns your text messages into daily, faxed letters to Congress in the easiest way possible. All you have to do is text “resist” to 50409 to get started.
First, it asks for your name and zip code so that it can identify your representatives. After you’ve confirmed that information, it will allow you to compose a letter to those representatives through individual texts. Your sentences must be short, but there is no limit to the length of your total message.
Resistbot will text you daily to ask what you’d like to say to your representatives. That way, even if you’ve been busy, the program helps you to be consistently politically active. It also will send you pictures of your letters and confirmation that the faxes have been sent.
Countable is a free app for iOS and Android devices that makes it quick and easy to understand the laws Congress is considering. It lets you tell your representatives how you want them to vote by clicking “Yea” or “Nay” on bills under consideration. Even better, you can follow up on how those officials voted (or if they voted at all), so you can hold them accountable in the next election cycle.
Internet Protocol Relay Service allows persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired to communicate through the telephone system with hearing persons. It can also be helpful to folks who suffer from social anxiety, because it allows users to communicate by text.
The first leg of an IP Relay call goes from the caller’s computer or other web-enabled device to the IP Relay Center via a webpage interface. The second leg of the call, as with traditional Telecommunication Relay Service, is from the communications assistant to the receiving party via voice telephone.
There are no additional costs to consumers beyond a computer or web-capable device and an internet connection. IP Relay service providers are compensated from the Interstate TRS Fund, which the FCC oversees.
Anyone with an internet connection can use IP Relay to contact their representatives, but you will want to familiarize yourself with the basics of how to use IP Relay prior to initiating a call. You’ll also need to know who your representatives are and what their phone numbers are.
For folks who want to make a difference by making a phone call to their representatives, but aren’t confident about what to say, 5 Calls is a fantastic resource. You can visit their website daily or download the free app (available for iOS or Android devices) to access a list of issues worth calling about.
5 Calls helps people make 5 calls in about 5 minutes by providing representative’s contact information, issue-specific scripts, and information about whether or not it’s even worth calling your representative about the issue. (No need to waste your time calling your Democratic senator if they’ve already opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act, for example.)
5 Calls works brilliantly in conjunction with IP Relay or Resistbot.
Now, you can fight the good fight, even if you’re laid up in a hospital bed.