2018 Annual Report

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2018 has flown by. Natural disasters and political turmoil seem to have become the norm. In an ever more chaotic environment, we count our blessings as we are able to continue our work toward our vision of a barrier-free society.

Public Policy and Advocacy

More Voters, Informed Voters

Midterm election years are typically not great for voter turnout, but 2018 didn’t quite follow that rule. At CTD, we were encouraged that in Texas, 53% of registered voters voted in the midterms. Our efforts to register and engage voters this year include…

 

A group of about 20 people with various disabilities stand, sit, and kneel in front of a REV UP banner, some holding signs that read Vote!

… serving as a lead organizer for the 2018 Texas Disability Issues Forum, which brought together the disability community and major candidates for statewide office to discuss issues affecting the disability community.

left: we didn’t have a big enough banner for the San Antonio advocates who rode up for TDIF!

Each of the Democratic candidates—Beto O’Rourke for Senator, Lupe Valdez for Governor, Mike Collier for Lt. Governor, and Justin Nelson for Attorney General—attended to speak about their disability issue positions. Each of these candidates, as well as Governor Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Governor, answered our Disability Issues Survey (still available for reference).

Portrait of a smiling man, in a wooded outdoor area, holding a baby.

“Here at UT Arlington we have had a great time watching the #TDIF2018 and learning more about the issues that are important to us! We're getting ourselves prepared to #REVUPTX!”

Tyler James, TDIF livestream watch party organizer

TDIF By the Numbers: 400 in attendance  |  11,000 livestream views  |  77 co-host organizations

 

REV UP! Register Educate Vote! Use your Power! Make the Disability Vote Count.… participating in the REV UP Texas coalition, which works to increase the political power of Texans with disabilities through voter registration, voter education, and voting. CTD worked with REV UP Texas to produce and promote a series of video PSAs. We also helped compose and promote REV UP’s response to an important study by Austin Community College, looking at voters with disabilities. The study confirms that Texans with disabilities are politically engaged and vote in unexpectedly extraordinary numbers. Read the press release!

 

… facilitating a series of interviews with people with disabilities to help SUMA, a social marketing company, with a study of their experience voting in Texas.

 

… taking the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to task on their federally required responsibilities to help register Texans with disabilities to vote. TWC is supposed to help people with disabilities register to vote during vocational rehabilitation, but they removed that function in their 2016 policy manual. Represented by Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project, CTD sent TWC a letter threatening to sue unless they put voter registration help back into their vocational rehab functions. They publicly committed to revising their practices.

 

Screenshot of Facebook post, with an image of a grid showing HR620 votes by representative, including their party and district.

Helping to stop the bad ADA bill

We are pleased to report that the harmful federal bill HR620, the ADA Education Reform Act, did not come to the Senate floor for a vote. Proponents of the bill said it would attack bad faith lawsuits, but HR620 failed to address that issue. Instead, it would make people with disabilities the only class of Americans held responsible for the enforcement of the very civil rights laws that protect them.

While HR620 passed the House this February, 43 Senators pledged to vote “no” on the bill, effectively stopping it in its tracks. CTD joined national efforts to oppose the bill. In addition to action alerts and a guest blog series on the bill, our graphic of how the Texas delegation voted became our biggest Facebook post of 2018, with a reach of over 47,000 (right). Thank you for your action!

 

Protecting the right to live in the community

On November 15, 2018, the latest chapter in an 8-year legal battle ended with closing arguments in the Pre-Admission Screening and Resident Review or PASRR suit. In 2010, the plaintiffs—6 individuals with disabilities, CTD, and the Arc of Texas—contended the State of Texas failed to comply with federal law requiring that nursing facility residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) be allowed to live in the most integrated setting.

This fall’s trial was held in federal district court in San Antonio over 4 ½ weeks. CTD was represented pro bono by Disability Rights Texas, the Center for Public Representation from Boston, the United States Department of Justice, and the Sidley Law Firm.

The trial concluded on the following note:

Judge: Can the State confirm the number of people with IDD in nursing facilities under Texas Medicaid?
The State of Texas: 3,600.
Judge: How does the State view these people?
The State: All want to be in nursing facilities.
Judge: How do you know that?
The State: The State has policies to ensure it.

With that, the Judge closed the trial and instructed both sides to file additional documents. We can expect a ruling after the new year.

A woman in a knit cap peers over her glasses in concentration at something out of the shot.

“I was impressed with the approach, strategy, and teamwork of the attorneys defending the rights of people with disabilities. Dennis Borel was prepared and outstanding representing the disability community on the witness stand.”

Willie Mae Clay, San Antonio disability advocate

 

Texas ABLE accounts now open to help people with disabilities save money

In 2015, CTD’s Chris Masey led efforts to pass legislation enabling the federal ABLE bill in Texas. After its passage, he remained a subject matter expert on ABLE accounts, sitting on the state’s ABLE advisory committee. This May, the program opened for enrollment.

 

Medicaid

Early this year, the Dallas Morning News published the multipart series, Pain & Profit: Investigating Medicaid Managed Care, which exposed some deeply troubling failures on the part of Medicaid Managed Care companies to provide services for Texans with disabilities. The series received intense public attention and outcry. We responded in an opinion piece that the DMN ran in June, “Texas Legislature cries foul over Medicaid tragedies but fails to admit its own role”.

Legislators convened hearings to address the problems with MCOs, and we provided both invited and public testimony regarding consumer protections under Medicaid Managed Care.

Community & the Arts

15th Annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival

In profile, a young woman looks intently at sheet music on a stand while playing the cello.What a year for Cinema Touching Disability! One thing that made our 15th anniversary celebration so amazing was Tilly Jones. Tilly, a teenage composer with multiple disabilities, had submitted TILLY’S SYMPHONY, a short documentary about her music and relationship to her disabilities, to our Short Film Competition. In it, she muses, “in the future, I would still like to be composing, and maybe even composing for other people. And maybe hear my pieces played around the world.” We reached out to ask if Tilly might compose a piece for the Festival. After much transpacific coordination, the world premiere of jazzy Marciac greeted our audience as they entered the theater!

That’s not all. Thanks to a grant from the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities, we brought Tilly and her mother, Marj, all the way from Brisbane, Australia to Austin to present TILLY’S SYMPHONY and Marciac, and of course, treat us to some live music (above)!

Read more about our outstanding 15th year in our Fest Wrap Up, including winners of our international Short Film Competition, selected from 501 entries from over 60 countries! Plus: guests, wrap around events, and of course, great disability films!

Icon of the 2018 Film Festival, a blue handiman holds up a camcorder and leans forward in his wheelchair, whose wheel is a film reel.

“The organization and coordination of this event exceeds expectations.
It is by far one of the most meaningful annual events I attended.”

Anonymous audience survey

 

Pen 2 Paper Creative Writing Contest

We’re thrilled to report another record-breaker for our disability-focused creative writing contest: we received 361 pieces of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and comics from all corners of the globe! Grand Prize went to Georgette Mallory’s Disarmed. In it, the author, who wears a prosthetic arm, judges her marriage to an able-bodied man, as she forms a new friendship with a recent amputee. That’s not all, by a mile; check out all of this year’s winners and finalists!

Black and white portrait of a woman looking up to smile at the camera.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity to make my voice and the voices of so many others heard. I hope this contest and your platform will help to raise awareness and deepen connections and understanding. I’m pleased to see there is such a contest at all.”

Jennifer Willis, non-fiction finalist (Chronic Optimism)

 

It was a good year for poetry at our monthly inclusive open mic series The Lion & the Pirate, which we co-host with VSA Texas at independent bookstore Malvern Books. Our April open mic was an official City Read for the Austin International Poetry Festival (the largest unjuried poetry festival in the US!). At our May and August events, we featured two Texas poets with disabilities, Maria Palacios (Houston) and Mel Finefrock (Plano).

Consumer Direction

Our Consumer Directed Services (CDS) Division continues to grow, as more and more Texans who need attendant services make the choice to manage their own care. As we wrap up 2018, our client base is approaching 400 Texans with disabilities and seniors.

This year, we made substantial progress on technological solutions to better serve consumers, and we were pleased to welcome Aracely (Celly) Menendez and Kala Steading to the CDS team.

CTD CDS Division

“Rosie, thanks for all your help with payroll this year. We appreciate all you do for us!”

Lori Galindo, CDS client

2018 by the Numbers

“Thank you so very much for your time and speaking to the UCB group at our August meeting. Everyone enjoyed your comments and were impressed by the accomplishments of CTD.”

Amy Whited, UCB Regional Director, State Government Relations & Public Affairs

 

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