Accessibility and Disability Policy Webinar Series

The Accessibility and Disability Policy Webinar Series (ADPWS) is free and real-time captioning is provided for all sessions. Sessions are held on a monthly basis and cover a variety of topics regarding people with disabilities in ten issue areas, accessibility, communication, education, emergency preparedness, health, housing, recreation, transportation, veterans and workforce. Topics of interest can benefit employers, governmental entities, service providers and individuals with disabilities.

ADPWS is coordinated and hosted by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD). The GCPD Committee makes recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on disability issues; promotes compliance with disability-related laws; promotes a network of local committees doing similar work; recognizes employers for hiring and retaining employees with disabilities; and recognizes media professionals and students for positively depicting Texans with disabilities.

Upcoming Webinars

COVID-19 Vaccine and People with Disabilities

Presented on March 9, 2021 at 10:00 AM
The Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) invites you to join us for an important question and answer webinar focusing on COVID-19 vaccines and people with disabilities. Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Department of State Health Service (DSHS), and others will answer your questions on COVID-19 vaccines, eligibility, and how to find vaccine providers in your community.

Register online for COVID-19 Vaccine and People with Disabilities Webinar


Previous Webinars

Visitability: Building Today's Housing for Tomorrow

Presented on February 23, 2021
"Visitability" is a growing trend in residential building codes, but what does the term actually mean? Typically used in reference to how easy it is for a person with a disability to access an owner-occupied single-family home, a house must meet at least three basic requirements before it is considered "visitable". Join us Tuesday, February 23rd at 2:00pm for a 90-minute webinar as we explore just what makes a home visitable, how to bring it to your community, and why it is so crucial when it comes to design. Panelists will also answer questions at the end of the webinar. Examples of what makes a visitable home includes things like having a no-step entrance, a wheelchair accessible bathroom on the main floor, and doors wide enough to provide for wheelchair passage. Register today and join us to learn how visitability benefits everyone!

How Does the ADA Apply to Historical Landmarks and Older Buildings?

Presented on February 3, 2021
Most historic and older buildings were not originally designed to accommodate people with disabilities, however, they must comply with the same accessibility standards as other existing buildings. Historic landmarks may enjoy exceptions to allow for the preservation of the historic nature of the building. Join us in this session to discuss what may be required if your building is older or designated as a historic landmark and creative ways to ensure compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Accessible Standards. Presented by John Torkelson, RAS, CASp, APA ADA Specialist and Mark J. Mazz, AIA, LLC.

The Importance of Braille Literacy

Presented on January 29, 2021 
This session will cover the importance of early Braille intervention services and how having this skill leads to higher student literacy. In addition, we will cover the results of a study on Braille in employment, resources for people who become blind later in life, and Braille in Spanish resources. Presented by Norma Crosby, Emily Gibbs, and Daniel Martinez.

Respect and People with Disabilities

Presented on December 21, 2020
Recorded and presented for the Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters Conference (TAHIT).Everyone deserves respect. Disability etiquette and people first language is not about political correctness, it is a way of emphasizing each person’s value, individuality, and capabilities. It is a communication philosophy that can be used with employees or customers, patients, interns, volunteers or clients and eliminates stereotypes, negative assumptions and generalizations. Join us this session and learn how to “just ask”.

Traveling Towards a Level Playing Field: Tips for Pursuing Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification

Presented on December 14, 2020
Is your company disability-owned, or does it hire primarily people with disabilities? If so, you may be eligible to pursue Small Business Enterprise (SBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contracts with government entities. Designed to help small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals have a fair opportunity to compete for federally funded transportation contracts, the DBE program is an important tool for making sure all businesses have an opportunity to thrive. Maurice Bridges of VIA Metropolitan Transit, Michael Bryant of Texas Department of Transportation, and Kelly Spillane of the Office of the Governor and will walk attendees through the accreditation process. – A Powerful, Accessible Tool to Match Texas Employers with Job Seekers

Presented on October 28, 2020 is the state's premier job-matching system. The newly-enhanced site has connected thousands of job seekers with hundreds of employers since relaunching in 2019. Chock full of accessibility and other features, WorkInTexas.Com offers unparalleled job matching support. Unlike other job search websites, users receive one-on-one support from teams of workforce professionals in 28 regions across the state. Join us as we hear from Michelle Castrow, Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast, and the Houston-area workforce team as they explain how they are connecting job seekers with disabilities to employment opportunities. This session will run 90 minutes, including Q&A.

Hiring, Retention and Advancement of People with Disabilities

Presented on October 27, 2020
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and disability rights champions like Lex Frieden, employers around the world are realizing the benefits of including people with disabilities. Join Velissa R. Chapa, employment law attorney and Legal Counsel to TWC Employer Commissioner Aaron Demerson, as she addresses key employer questions about the ADA. She will also present frequently asked employer questions on the hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities. Finally, Ms. Chapa will highlight the importance of career development for employees with disabilities in all workplaces. This session will run 60 minutes, including Q&A.

Putting Texas Back to Work

Presented on October 20, 2020
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the Texas workforce. The Texas Workforce Commission, the statewide network of Workforce Development Boards, and a wide array of industry and education organizations continue to work to assist workers dislocated due to the pandemic. TWC’s Office of Employer Initiatives is leading the response with several training initiatives aimed at helping the Texas workforce acquire new skills. Join us for this webinar as we cover current projects and explain how people with disabilities can benefit from these programs. Attendees will hear firsthand how local workforce boards have partnered with Vocational Rehabilitation and training centers to put funding into action to help local communities! This session will run for 60 minutes, including Q&A.

How Vocational Rehabilitation Helped Me Stay Employed

Presented on October 19, 2020
One in four Americans identifies as having a disability. It is not uncommon for people to acquire a disability later in life, often after having established a career. This can make continuing work challenging, but luckily there are many resources available to help people with disabilities obtain, maintain, and advance in their employment! This webinar will cover the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program and how it can help you keep your career moving. Attendees will hear about available services as well as success stories from VR customers. This session will run for 60 minutes, including Q&A.

The Disaster Recovery Toolkit for Individuals with Disabilities

Presented on September 16, 2020
Individuals with disabilities often encounter disproportionate barriers during the recovery phase following disasters. Dr. Sharp and Dr. Stough will introduce a toolkit developed to aid case managers, long-term recovery groups, VOADs, educators, emergency managers, disability-related organizations and individuals with disabilities and/or access and functional needs during the recovery phase of disaster. Discussed will be housing, education, transportation, medical and mental health, as well as five other support areas essential to recovery. Resources and services available in these critical areas will be reviewed.

ADA 30: Moving Forward Webinar Series

Presented from July 7 to 29, 2020 
July 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Twenty-one agencies and organizations from across the State celebrated with a series of virtual workshops throughout the month, culminating in a big, Texas-style celebration.

Substance Abuse, the Workplace, and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Presented on June 12, 2020
This webinar will focus on substance abuse issues that may arise in the workplace. In particular, we will examine how employers can best approach and support employees who may be struggling with addiction. This session will also explore the rights conferred to employees with substance abuse issues under Title I of the ADA as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Presenter: George Powers, JD, Legal Specialist at the Southwest ADA Center.

Job Accommodations for Mental Health Impairments

Presented on May 5, 2020
Job accommodations can be vital for the successful employment of individuals with mental health impairments. Knowing how, when, and why it might be necessary to disclose a disability is the first and often most difficult part of the accommodation process. This session will provide information on the disclosure of mental health impairments in the workplace, the limitations associated with these impairments, and the accommodations that might be needed. Real-life accommodation situations and solutions will be interspersed throughout the session. A question and answer session will be included at the end.

Melanie Whetzel, M.A., CBIS
Job Accommodation Network, Lead Consultant, Cognitive / Neurological Team

HHSC and TEA COVID-19 Disability Policy Q&A

Presented on April 17, 2020
The Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) invites you to join us for an important question and answer webinar focusing on health and education policy considerations for people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. A follow-up to our previous COVID-19: Considerations for People with Disabilities, this webinar will be held on Friday, April 17th from 10:00-11:30am.

Justin Porter, State Director of Special Education at the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will answer your questions on COVID-19 and its impact on health and education policy. GCPD will be taking questions in advance in order for our panelists to be able to provide immediate answers.

Common Issues Regarding Service Animals and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Presented on April 6, 2020
This session will examine common issues and scenarios pertaining to the rights of service animal users under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws; as they navigate through public accommodations, businesses, housing and other related settings. Presenters Marisa Demaya and George Powers, JD of the Southwest ADA Center will explore common situations, discussing rights and obligations under the applicable laws and provide practical recommendations for both service animal users and entities navigating them. Discussions will also include any recent updates to laws such as the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as it pertains to service animals in a dwelling.

COVID-19: Considerations for Individuals with Disabilities

Presented on April 1, 2020
Community preparedness planning and response for COVID-19 should include older adults and people with disabilities, as well as the organizations that support them. The majority of people with disabilities live in the community, and many depend on receiving services and supports in their home in order to maintain their health and independence. This webinar will give an overview of how best to include people with disabilities in emergency preparedness, as well as provide information on resources for people in the community.

Criminal Justice and Working with the IDD Population

Presented on February 27, 2020
The criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate, particularly when you have to do it on your own. For people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), interfacing with the system can be even more challenging, especially if their disability goes unidentified. Criminal justice professionals may not have the necessary training to properly identify and treat people with I/DD, which can lead to difficulties for everyone involved. In this hour-long webinar, attendees will receive a brief overview of the unique challenges faced by people with I/DD in the criminal justice system, what first responders and other professionals can do to ameliorate these challenges, and examples of how best to identify, communicate with, and support people with I/DD to ensure they receive equal access to justice. We will also discuss Pathways to Justice and Access Justice, trainings designed to support criminal justice professionals in interfacing with people with I/DD, and how to bring these trainings to your community.

Texas Driving with Autism Initiative

Presented on November 21, 2019
The Driving with Autism initiative is a first-of-its-kind program out of Texas that is improving the interaction between law enforcement and drivers diagnosed with a communication challenge. Join Jennifer Allen, Executive Director of Aspergers101 and the force behind the initiative as she and the leaders of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety (Whitney Brewster and Skylor Hearn) share the components of the program in a one-hour webinar. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how to replicate the initiative in your state!

Brought to you as part of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities’ ongoing accessibility and policy webinar series, we will explore the three components of the Driving with Autism initiative:

  1. Including “Communication Impediment” on a state driver’s license and ID—what does it mean, what constitutes a communication impediment, and how do you market this message statewide?
  2. Texas Law Enforcement Training—what type of training on understanding drivers with a communication is now available in the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) curriculum? What has been the reception to the training so far?
  3. SB 976: The Samuel Allen Law—Texas drivers now have an option to place “communication impediment” in the Texas Law Enforcement Communication System (TLETS), which will alert officers prior to approaching the vehicle during a traffic stop. What does this mean for both officers and drivers?

Title I of the ADA and Reasonable Accommodation Requests: What’s Happening to the ADA now that it’s turned 29: EEOC Case Law specific to ADAAA TITLE I

Presented on October 23, 2019
The Interactive Process: Sounds Easy, Why is it so Hard?

ADA Reasonable Accommodation is not new, yet questions persist in how to navigate the interactive process. This webinar will explore the requirement to provide reasonable accommodation, explore resources, discuss the guidance on reasonable accommodation and the emerging issues in reasonable accommodation. Sometimes hearing about legal blunders others have made can help you from making the same mistake. Title I of the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. Failure to provide an accommodation is a form of disability discrimination. Handling ADA accommodation requests is tricky. But having a good ADA policy, making sure employees acknowledge receipt of the policy, and properly instructing managers how to deal with requests are essential tools to help prevent unforeseen disability discrimination claims. We will take you through what is current in accommodations in the workplace. Presented by Aaron McCulloug, Attorney.

Understanding Hearing Loss: Communicating with Consumers and Employees who are Hard of Hearing

Presented on September 25, 2019
This workshop will provide an overview of barriers to understanding speech, as experienced by your consumers and employees who are hard of hearing. Factors such as distance, background noise, poor room acoustics, and speaker accent, among other things, can create invisible barriers. The presenter, who has hearing loss, will provide strategies and options for working with people who are hard of hearing. Participants will develop a heightened sensitivity to and awareness of the myriad of challenges that individuals with hearing loss face in a variety of settings. Presented by Rose Aird Minette, Health and Human Service, Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Inclusive Emergency Planning and Personal Preparedness

Presented on September 25, 2019
This webinar will identify what inclusive emergency plans are, why they are important to people with disabilities, and how to ensure community plans reflect the needs of all people in their community. We will explore strategies and practices that can be incorporated into daily activities to assist people with disabilities to become personally prepared for an emergency and to build asset-based communities of preparedness. This webinar will provide examples and best practices for every individual to become personally prepared and disaster resilient. Presented by Ms. Skaggs, the National Director of Whole Community Planning and Training for BCFS Health and Human Services Emergency Management Division.

Develop a Comprehensive ADA/504 Transition Plan

Presented on July 24, 2019
All public entities with 50+ employees are required to have a transition plan in place that addresses structural changes necessary for achieving program accessibility. The presenter will review the practical steps to get started on those essential tasks. She will review the four distinct parts of a compliant transition plan:  

  1.    the planning process
  2.    determining the execution plan
  3.    the evaluation process
  4.    project management  

The presenter will outline how to create an ADA compliant transition plan that will ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from programs, services and activities. An ADA compliant transition plan will help your entity avoid costly litigation and prevent your government funding from being at risk.

Presenter by Kristi Avalos, President and CEO of Accessology.

Hot Topics in Special Education Law

Recorded on July 20, 2019
Navigating ongoing hot-button topics in Texas special education can be confusing! In this session we will cover some developments from the end of the legislative session, as well as challenges surrounding the way Texas identifies students who would benefit from special education. Referred to as “child find”, the state has been working to make changes to better identify children who need special education services.

Dorene Philpot is a private practice attorney based in Galveston, Texas. She devotes her practice entirely to representing special needs children and their parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

Digital Accessibility the Invisible Civil Rights Challenge of the 21st Century

Presented on May 10, 2019
Often organizations may not know where to go or how to get started in making their websites and technologies accessible for people with disabilities. In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 16), the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities will host a webinar May 10, “Digital Accessibility the Invisible Civil Rights Challenge of the 21st Century.” Join us at 2:00 PM for a panel discussion with Sharon Rush of Knowbility, Glenda Sims of Deque, and Michael More of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. These experts will share common examples of accessibility barriers and solutions, training opportunities to learn more about accessibility, accessibility testing/development tools and resources, answer questions, and share best practice examples for bringing organizations into compliance with accessibility laws and standards. 

Transition Through All Ages and Stages

Presented on May 7, 2019
Life is marked by transitions—preschool to kindergarten, middle to high school, and the innumerable transitions we experience on a daily basis both at home and in the community. Brenda will discuss practical ways parents and school staff can plan for transitions for students with disabilities at every age and every stage, with the ultimate goal of creating a fulfilling adult life. 

Presented by Brenda L. Nelson, M.S. of Nelson Educational Consulting.

Got Braille?

Presented on May 1, 2019
Parents and teachers of students with visual impairments are often asked if braille is ‘really necessary’ when so much of today’s content is available through electronic devices. The answer is, braille is absolutely necessary! Discover why braille is an important form of basic literacy, and why its value is not lessened in today’s world of smart phones, tablets, computers, and other assistive technology. 

Presented by Susan O'Brien, M.Ed. of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Empowerment: Building Success with Employees with Autism

Presented on April 29, 2019
Presenters will offer expert advice on common workplace challenges such as sensory, social, and thinking and processing. Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 will offer insight into the most common workplace challenges experienced by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and offer specific suggestions for accommodations. Take this opportunity to hear more about how Vocational Rehabilitation and local workforce boards, public universities, and private employers have discovered how to successfully balance the needs of the business’ bottom line with the employment goals of people with Autism. Finally, the Director of Recruiting at H-E-B will share best practices and how they are attracting talented people on the Autism spectrum for jobs across the organization—from bagger to software developer. 

Making Employment a Reality

Presented on April 20, 2019
The thought of preparing your child for a career and helping them find a job can be overwhelming—especially for parents of children with disabilities. On-the-job success requires developing a broad skill set that goes beyond basic vocational skills.

Lori Doucet, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at Including Kids in Humble, Texas, will discuss the crucial, sometimes overlooked skills your child or young adult needs to help obtain, maintain, and be successful at their job.

A look at Pre-Employment Transition Services (ETS) and New Statewide Initiatives for Individuals with Disabilities

Presented on March 26, 2019
Intended audience: 

  • Parents and advocate of transition age students with disabilities age 14-21 
  • High School Transition Counselors
  • High School Vocational Adjustment Coordinators

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a primary funding source for public vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. WIOA requires that states provide Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to students with disabilities age 14-21. Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services added new opportunities for Pre-ETS. This session will focus on what you need to know about the TWC, Pathway to Careers Initiatives, including the Summer Earn and Learn, Explore STEM, Charting the Course, Pre-ETS Tools for Students: OnCourse and other available work experience services. Presented by Zenaida Olivas, State Office Transition Program Specialist for Texas Workforce Commission.

Top Tips for Tip Top Transition

Presented on March 9, 2019
This is the session for you if:

  • your child is in elementary or middle school and you want to know more about transition planning in the IEP; 
  • you’re in the midst of transition and feel overwhelmed; or 
  • you’re a seasoned veteran and looking for more resources to help your family or your friends as they move toward graduation and adult life!

Elizabeth Danner will review the key elements of transition planning, help families and students understand what they can expect, and share resources that can help you move with confidence to the Admission Review Dismissal (ARD) meeting where transition will be discussed, and to the Good Life that awaits beyond graduation!

Everything You Need to Know About Developmental Disabilities in Texas

Presented on March 5, 2019
In recognition of Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) will cover everything you need to know about DD – from the principles outlined in the DD Act originally passed in 1963 to the work being done today to build community capacity and change systems in Texas. In the webinar, you’ll find out about TCDD’s cutting-edge projects, strategic public policy efforts, and innovative public awareness campaigns. Participate in the webinar to learn how you can get involved and replicate TCDD initiatives in your community.

IEP - Present Levels to Measurable Annual Goals

Presented on February 16, 2019
Learn quality Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) components along with measurable standards-based goals and objectives. Shemica will discuss why the PLAAFP is the cornerstone for creating a high-quality IEP. You will be able to use the tools learned to help advocate for appropriate IEP goals and services. Presented by Shemica Allen, the CEO of Personalized Learning Solutions, LLC.

Career Readiness and Hiring Programs for Texas Veterans

Presented on November 6, 2018
Learn from a Texas veteran how different state programs can help transitioning veterans. Webinar featuring Bob Gear Jr., Director of Texas Veterans Leadership Program with the Texas Workforce Commission. 

You will learn:

  • The value of employing Texas veterans
  • Tools to help translate military skills to civilian skills
  • Skills training grant opportunities for employers
  • Value of collaboration with local, regional and state partners
  • Importance of integration with Military Transition Centers

Business Partnerships for Disability Inclusion

Presented on October 30, 2018
Join us for a webinar to learn from other Texas businesses about how disability inclusion is helping their bottom line. You will learn why businesses want to hire people with disabilities; how technology changes are creating new opportunities and barriers for employees with disabilities; how to develop an inclusive supply chain; and identifying qualified applicants and how to retain employees with disabilities.

Disaster Preparedness and Family Members with Disabilities

Presented on September 29, 2018 
When planning ahead for a potential disaster, it is important for families to take into consideration the specific needs of all the members of your family. This session will give attendees strategies and techniques to plan more effectively for their unique family needs.

Preparing for the Unexpected: Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities

Presented on September 27, 2018
This session will highlight the importance of being proactive with preparing and the specific steps to take to ensure that you are ready for the unexpected. The presenter will provide preparedness tips surrounding specific disabilities, such as blind/low vision, deaf/hard of hearing, cognitive disabilities, etc. There will be opportunities for questions during the webinar and at the end of the session.

Tax Advantage Savings Program for People on SSI, SSDI and Medicaid

Presented on August 22, 2018
Join us for a presentation of the new Texas ABLE® Program - established by the Texas Legislature, signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, implemented by Comptroller Glenn Hegar - that allows certain persons with disabilities to open tax-advantaged savings accounts for qualified disability expenses. Individuals can save up to $100,000 while still maintaining eligibility for SSI, SSDI and Medicaid.

People with Disabilities: Know Your Voter Rights

Presented on July 17, 2018
In recognition of National Disability Voter Registration Week, the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities is hosting a webinar that will cover voter registration and education. Disability Rights Texas and ADAPT of Texas, both non-partisan groups, will share information related to voter registration and community engagement. This dialogue will help ensure equal opportunity and full participation in the voting process for people with disabilities.

Texas Parks and Wildlife: Accessible Outdoor Programs and Education

Presented on May 31, 2018
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) provides, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. This webinar explores TPWD’s accessible programming in their education programs and parks. Presenters will discuss TPWD grants available to support adaptive programming in your community. The presentation will feature success stories from past grant recipients. 

Texas Students with Disabilities: Pre-Employment Transition Services

Presented on April  14, 2018
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a primary funding source for public vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. WIOA requires that states provide Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to students with disabilities age 14-21. Recently Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services added new opportunities for Pre-ETS. This session will focus on what you need to know about the TWC, VR initiatives, including the Summer Earn and Learn program, a paid internship program for transition age youth with disabilities and other work-based learning programs available across the state. 

The Transition ARD

Presented on April 10, 2018
This session covers an overview of the special education process and requirements for the Transition ARD, vocational rehabilitation services for transition age students, and options for making educational and other decisions after the age of 18. 

Accessible Parking: Enforcement

Presented on March 20, 2018
Enforcement is a critical component of disabled parking abuse prevention. Texas law grants enforcement authorization to establish citizen volunteer enforcement programs. Constable 5 was the first in Travis County government to start such a program. Now entering its 23rd year, Disabled Parking Enforcement continues its commitment to provide equal access to citizens with disabilities. Join Constable 5 staff as they present an overview of disabled parking laws and describe how their volunteer program works.

In addition, Mack Marsh with Access Empowerment will join the session. Mack will share information about Parking Mobility, an education and enforcement program, designed to efficiently address accessible parking abuse in your community. Innovative technology, citizen engagement and effective education has proven to reduce accessible parking abuse and recidivism.