Document Type

Guide (how-to document)


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Demography, Population, and Ecology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


The quality of life in any community is determined to some extent by the laws and policies of governmental units and agencies. One way of changing community conditions is to change the laws and policies. From a group’s perspective, any proposed change may be for the better or the worse. However, for changes in laws, regulations, or policies to occur, a public hearing is often required. During public hearings, people have an equal opportunity speak either for or against proposed changes. Many different types of testimony can be and usually are provided during public hearings. These may range from detailed, expert testimony using facts and figures to brief, personal testimony using personal experiences. Each type of testimony has great importance, because public officials often judge the importance of an issue by the number and type of comments they hear. The purpose of brief, personal testimony is to help those making the decision understand the issues in human or personal terms. As someone interested in giving personal testimony, your task is to tell a story about the changes being considered: to tell what they mean to you. This is not an easy task. It is never easy to talk about important things in limited time, and the issues may be very emotional ones. This testimony guide is designed to help you prepare your testimony and to teach you how to present it successfully.


community participation and independent living, leadership, rural, disability


© 1984, Tom Seekins and Stephen B. Fawcett

Granting Agency

National Institute on the Handicapped; U.S. Department of Education's Rehabilitation Serves Administration


Funded by a grant (#G008006928) from the National Institute on the Handicapped. Reproduced in 2000 with written permission from the RTC/IL under a grant (#H235K000002) from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Project Number

NIH: G008006928; USDE: H235K000002