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Barbara Jordan Media Awards

Each year the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, in conjunction with local committees throughout the state, accepts nominations for media professionals and students who have produced material for the public which accurately and positively reports on individuals with disabilities, using People First language and respectful depictions. Nominations can be submitted by anyone, including the producer of the piece, by completing the submission form and sending it with any necessary supporting materials to the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.

Gold award medallion with image of Barbara Jordan in profile

A panel of judges, including media professionals and people with disabilities, score the entries and collectively select the winners. Each year the decisions for the judges become more difficult as more quality entries are received in the categories of Print Feature, Print News, Photojournalism, TV Feature, TV Documentary, Special Contribution by an Organization, Internet, etc. See Submission Guidelines (PDF) or Submission Guidlines (Word) and Entry Form (Word) or Entry Form (PDF) for complete list of categories.

For teachers and students of journalism, THE SCOOP is an educational video produced by the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. This informative and interactive 45 minute training session titled "The Scoop on Reporting About People with Disabilities" illustrates how to interact with and report about people with disabilities. The video incorporates open captioning and audio description to show media accessibility. The video, lesson plans, and related documents can be viewed for free on our Website, or teachers can contact the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities directly for a DVD and paper copies.

The Barbara Jordan Media Awards are named in honor of the Houston native and U.S. congresswoman who gained recognition and a place of honor in history. She was known as a remarkable orator who broke barriers and built bridges. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and served for one day in 1972 as the Governor of Texas (both Governor Preston Smith and Lt. Governor Ben Barnes were out of state). In 1973, Jordan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and eventually began to use a cane and then a wheelchair. Barbara Jordan passed away in 1996.

 The Barbara Jordan Media Award itself is a beautiful three-inch bronze medallion designed by David Deming, an internationally prominent sculptor, and is presented to winners in several categories each year at an awards ceremony hosted by one of the many local committees throughout the state.

 Elements in past winning entries include:

  • Portraying people with disabilities as independent and productive.
  • Focusing on stories about people first and disability second.
  • Using people with disabilities as sources, rather than as examples.
  • Placing coverage in appropriate subject area (e.g. sports covered in sports section).

To be eligible, entries must have been produced and offered to the public between January 1 and December 31 of the current year and submitted to our office by February 17, 2017.

2017 Barbara Jordan Media Awards

The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities 34th Annual Barbara Jordan Media Awards ceremony will be hosted by University of North Texas Frank W. & Sue Mayborn School of Journalism on Thursday, April 13, 2017.  For more information on the awards ceremony, please contact the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities by email or (512) 463-5739.

Director’s Challenge
A unique opportunity for Texas college students this year is to submit a nomination for the Director’s Challenge which seeks short videos or public service announcements (30-60 seconds) that promote accessible parking availability and discourage illegal parking in accessible parking spaces. An exception is allowed for the Director’s Challenge - the video or PSA may be created or published in Texas any time between January 2017 and the February 17 deadline.  University of North Texas Division of Equity & Diversity is offering a $500 scholarship to the winner of the Director’s Challenge for a student attending any Texas college.

Primary Findings from the Review of Accessible Parking for Texans with Disabilities Report
First:  The Committee found that enforcement of current accessible parking laws was a leading concern to Texans with disabilities. This theme was common in comments received at a public hearing on accessible parking as well as from survey responses from individuals with disabilities. In an open-ended question where survey respondents could share information on any concern they had about accessible parking, enforcement was the topic that generated the most responses for this question. In addition to conveying an overall general need for enforcement of current accessible parking laws, survey responses shared a perception of general reluctance by both law enforcement officers and/or private property owners/managers to enforce accessible parking laws including those times when they tried to report real-time violations to local authorities.

Second:  An insufficient number of accessible parking spaces was reported to the Committee as a particular concern for persons with disabilities. Again, anecdotal information was gathered from the public by public hearing and an anonymous online survey. Statistical data gathered from survey results disclosed that approximately 87 percent of persons with disabilities used a vehicle for transportation at least weekly or daily as part of their life routine. More importantly, 79.4 percent of respondents stated they had difficulty finding an accessible parking space when they made trips to the store, to a restaurant or to the doctor. Most of the time, this was because designated accessible parking spots were all filled.

Third:  Placard fraud and abuse is recognized as a prevalent problem in the world of accessible parking. Some perceive it as partly responsible for the accessible parking space shortage due to the “convenience” factor. Actions causing placard fraud and abuse may include: (1) someone without a disability parking in an accessible parking space fraudulently by using a vehicle displaying a specialty parking plate or disability parking placard belonging to a family member or friend; (2) illegally buying or selling disability placards (on Craig’s List or similar sites); and (3) illegally altering or manufacturing disability parking placards for use by persons without a disability.

Detailed information on the Committee’s work on accessible parking is available on the Committee’s website in the report entitled A Review of Accessible Parking for Persons with Disabilities.

VIDEO: Governor Greg Abbott congratulates 2016 Barbara Jordan Media Awards winners.

For more information and resources on reporting on people with disabilities, as well as information on the national Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, visit the website of the National Center on Disability and Journalism.

2016 Barbara Jordan Media Awards Ceremony

The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities’ 33rd Annual Barbara Jordan Media Awards ceremony will be hosted by The University of Texas at Arlington on Saturday, April 23, 2016.  Join us in honoring the Barbara Jordan Media Awards winners at the E. H. Hereford University Center, 300 West First Street, Arlington TX 76010.  For information or to purchase tickets, visit 2016 Barbara Jordan Media Awards. or click here. For more information on the awards ceremony, please contact the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities by email or (512) 463-5739.

2016 Barbara Jordan Media Award Winners


Meredith & Me: a mother and daughter on a profoundly different journey by Sarah Barnes
Journalist, Austin


Shredders by Greg Groogan and John Starling 
Fox-26 TV, Houston

Local Paralympic Athlete Another Step Closer to His Dream by David Chancellor 
WOAI Sports Sunday, San Antonio


The Hardest Working Man by Bob Phillips, Brian Hawkins and Kelli Phillips
Phillips Productions, Dallas


State Pays Some Workers with Disabilities Pennies per Hour by Alain Stephens
KUT, Austin


Team Manager Inspires Georgetown Eagles to Soar
by Rodolfo Gonzalez and Kelly West
Austin American-Statesman, Austin


The Waiting Game by John Savage
The Texas Observer, Austin

Texas State’s Guendling Gives Up Football for Goal to Go: Signing Songs by Steve Habel
Austin American-Statesman, Austin


Why Do We Volunteer? By Kelvin Anderson, Rey Barrera, Ken Bodden, Jason Lehecka, and Joe Maloney
Department of Aging and Disability Services, Austin


The Navigation Equation – How Blind Students Take On Texas Tech By David Talley
The Hub, Texas Tech University, Lubbock


Salsa and the Machine by Lea Konczal and Jeanette Pérez
UT Journalism Department, The University of Texas at Austin

View Past Barbara Jordan Media Award Winners »