86th Legislative Session Policy Recommendations
The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) in accordance with its enabling statute, Human Resources Code, Title 7 Chapter 115, Sec. 115.009.(3), respectfully submits this report to the Governor and to the 86th Texas Legislature on recommended changes in state laws relating to persons with disabilities. GCPD recommends changes in disability policies and programs in the areas of accessibility, communication, education, emergency preparedness, health, housing, recreation, transportation, veterans and workforce.
The full document is available in an accessible Word version and as a PDF:
2018-2019 Report on Texas Service Animal Issues and Proposed Solutions
In 2018 the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) established a workgroup to gather information and develop solutions to address concerns surrounding service animals. This report summarizes information gathered by the Committee on concerns and experiences related to interactions of people with disabilities and businesses, informs on how state and federal laws provide civil rights protections to people with disabilities, and provides guidance to policy makers on making potential changes to state laws.
This report is intended to clarify:
- the difference between the terms “service animal” and “assistance animal”;
- how service animals are used and where they are permitted to be used;
- penalties for misrepresenting a dog as a service animal; and
- the challenges faced by people with disabilities and law enforcement.
Finally, this report contains GCPD’s recommendations for needed changes in Texas law to address enforcement challenges.
During the 83rd Legislative Session, HB 1545 was passed which required the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) to conduct an interim study regarding the use of certain public transportation services by people with disabilities. Specifically, the Committee was tasked with the responsibility to identify:
- The feasibility of standardizing the process of certifying an individual’s eligibility for services in the state; and
- Whether the current 21-day provision of services by a provider is adequate to meet the needs of visitors with disabilities to locations served by the provider.
The Committee conducted two web-based surveys (one for paratransit providers, and one for Texans with disabilities), and held an accessible public hearing at the State Capitol on the charges of the interim study. The online surveys, in English and Spanish, were sent out through various virtual channels including emails lists and a GovDelivery format. There were 568 Texans who self-identified as a person with a disability who provided input for the Paratransit Rider survey. In addition, we received input from 266 Texans who indicated they do not have a disability but were familiar with paratransit services. A number of these responses came from family members, disability advocates, or professionals in the field of disability issues. The Committee heard from 13 people at the public hearing in July of 2014. The subsequent data analysis and report was submitted on January 1, 2015 as required by HB 1545.
The interim report is available in an accessible Word version and as a PDF:
A Report on Support Service Providers (SSPs)
The Helen Keller National Center has identified an estimated 2,486 DeafBlind Texans. DeafBlindness is a disability in which a person not only has deafness, with their hearing impaired severely enough so that most speech cannot be understood with amplification, but who also has legal blindness. DeafBlindness not only affects a person’s ability to communicate or access information, but significant and unique adaptations may be required for the individual to maintain their independence. The use of a Support Service Provider (SSPs) is critical to help DeafBlind Texans lead more independent lives.
SSPs are specially trained professionals who communicate with American Sign Language and enable people who are DeafBlind to access their environments and make informed decisions. They can provide individuals who are DeafBlind with visual and environmental information and communication accessibility. Common tasks performed by an SSP include helping a person who is DeafBlind go shopping at the grocery store, read their mail, or help them participate in a public meeting. In Texas, SSPs are usually volunteers as the state does not have funding or a strategy to pay for SSP services.
The GCPD published “A Report on Support Service Providers” that proposes the establishment of a State SSP Program to meet the critical needs of Texans who are DeafBlind.
A Review of Accessible Parking for Persons with Disabilities in Texas
Interim Report Prepared for Members of 85th Texas Legislature:
- Appendix A: House Bill 1317, 84th Texas Legislative Session (R)
- Appendix B: U.S. Department of Transportation Guidelines at 23 C.F.R. 1235 establishing a Uniform System for Parking for Persons with Disabilities
- Appendix C: Comments from Public Hearing (August 10, 2016)
- Appendix D: Accessible Parking Survey for Person with a Disability – Questions Only
- Appendix E: Accessible Parking Survey for Person with a Disability – Survey Results
- Appendix F: Accessible Parking Survey for Businesses – Questions Only
- Appendix G: Accessible Parking Survey Businesses – Survey Results
- Appendix H: Parking Laws in the 50 U.S. States
- Appendix I: Coppolo, George. (2007, January 10). Handicapped Parking Laws
- Appendix J: Accessible Parking Studies by Other States
- Appendix K: “Texas Capitol Accessibility Report”, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (August 28, 2014)
- Appendix L: “Parking Usage Study”, Texas Facilities Commission (2010)