2017 Annual Report

From behind, a man at a podium holds an arm in the air as he addresses a crowd. They are outside, and in the foreground, is the seal of the State of Texas in marble flooring.2017. Well, it wasn’t the year we were hoping for. Between huge shifts in political climate, social unrest, and even the weather, we all experienced some sort of upheaval during these past 12 months. Even in relatively calm times, the work of advocates is never a walk in the park. CTD is grateful that we were able to deliver on a few measures; read on.

All photographs by CTD unless otherwise noted. 

Right: CTD’s Chris Masey fires up the crowd at a July education rally. Photo by Steven Aleman.

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85th Texas Legislature

Despite significant gains in some areas, decisions made by the 85th Texas Legislature destabilized fundamental community services and supports. We noted some disheartening trends among lawmakers of undercutting the State’s own budget, putting energy into politics over meaningful policy, and ignoring cost-effective community-based solutions for Texans with disabilities. 

In this difficult environment, CTD and our partners still managed to secure several significant wins, including:

Read our full 2017 Legislative Report

Session stats

Federal Issues

It wasn’t only the State legislature keeping us on our toes. In 2017, a number of federal issues emerged that we couldn’t ignore. A new administration with very different priorities than the last served up a series of critical fights for the disability community.

Congress’ Assault on Public Health

Many of our elected officials in Washington want to cut health care coverage for the disadvantaged, including people with disabilities. Their starting point, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would have thrown millions of Americans out of health coverage, caused almost 39,000 Texans to lose services under the Community First Choice Option, cut over 40,000 Texas health care jobs, and closed hospitals. If this wasn’t bad enough, Congress proposed to cut into traditional Medicaid as it existed before the ACA. Cost-effective community services would definitely have been on the chopping block.  

Erin smiles at the camera from a line of people with upraised, joined hands. The stone fa├žade of the Texas Capitol is right behind them. We salute our partners at ADAPT, in particular, and other national disability organizations that led the charge against bill after bill that would have been disastrous for Americans with disabilities. CTD jumped in to these efforts, calling our members to action, organizing and participating in rallies (right: CTD's Erin Moore joins Hands Around the Capitol) and town halls, and calling and visiting Texas congressmen and women. 

Our movement to stop Medicaid cuts and ACA repeal has been successful so far. But Congress is still moving forward with its efforts to undermine access to healthcare and services for Americans with disabilities. Even now, they threaten kids of low income families by failing to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Proposed tax cuts, heavily benefiting corporations and the wealthy, would be offset by draconian cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. We’ll follow these efforts closely into 2018, and we’ll be counting on our members to continue raising their voices! 

The Americans with Disabilities Act

During session, we successfully countered a state level bill that would have made it nearly impossible for someone without a law degree to file an ADA claim. Not to be outdone, Congressional Representative Ted Poe (of Texas, no less), filed H. R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act in January. Despite its misleading name, this bill would put the burden of ADA enforcement on individuals who encounter violations, rather than the businesses that commit them. 

As of this report, no vote on the House floor has been scheduled, but H. R. 620 has continued to pick up cosponsors, including 12 from Texas. 

Our call to action to oppose H. R. 620 continues, too

CTD & the Arts

Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival

It was another remarkable year for our annual film festival, as we focused on world of prosthetics.

From the side, a black and white cat with a set of wheels harnessed to his back legs, receives a scratch on the head.My Bionic Pet (2014) screened as our big feature on Friday night. The documentary takes a look at animals with injuries or disabilities—and the custom prosthetics their humans develop for them. During the pre-show, audience members got to hang out with cohost Austin Animal Center and local bionic pet and Instagram star, Elmer the cat (right)! Following My Bionic Pet, star Chris P. Bacon, a pig who uses a wheelchair, joined us for a Skype Q&A.

Photo by William Philpott.

Saturday night, Out on a Limb (2013) took top billing. Blending the technical with the personal, this documentary captures the experience of using today’s most advanced artificial limbs and glimpses the exciting possibilities in the future of prosthetics. After the film, Dennis Borel moderated a panel on prosthetics today with local athlete Greg LaKomski and e-NABLE UT founder/ president Glori Das

Read our full Cinema Touching Disability 2017 wrap up

Pen 2 Paper Creative Writing Contest

2017 was a record-breaking year for Pen 2 Paper, with 220 pieces of disability fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Authors and poets shared their stories of losing loved ones to dementia, navigating life with a mental illness, writing with chronic pain, finding and celebrating the disability community, and more. 

Grand Prize went to Heidi Johnson-Wright’s Crip Cargo, a gut-punch of a story about pre-ADA accommodations and fitting in in junior high. 

Read this year’s outstanding entries

Our monthly Lion and Pirate inclusive open mic, cohosted by VSA Texas at Malvern Books, continued as a popular community event. In addition to great music, stories, poems, and performances, we were proud to feature:

Join us for our first open mic of 2018 on January 7 at Malvern Books

A few reasons we’re not totally disappointed in 2017…

January: Represented by Disability Rights Texas and Winston & Strawn LLP, CTD prepared to sue TEA over their 8.5% cap on special education enrollment. At the last minute, TEA agreed to our terms, removing the cap. Watch the live stream of the announcement

June: Our Susie Angel shot a quick video on how critical Medicaid is to her daily life, especially during her recent cancer treatment. The video took off on Facebook, becoming our biggest post ever with over 11.8k views. Watch below!

September: CTD’s Pen 2 Paper disability focused creative writing contest received 220 entries from all over the globe, more than double what we’ve seen after eight years of holding this contest.

Outside a warehouse with stacks of white boxes, a woman sitting in a wheelchair with her back to camera looks through papers, while several men move boxes.September: On CTD’s recommendation, United Healthcare included the Houston Center for Independent Living in their million-dollar contribution to Hurricane Harvey relief. HCIL director Sandra Bookman: “This contribution emboldens us to be able to say, ‘we’ll be at the table when Houston starts to rebuild.’”

Right: HCIL staffer Maria Orozco oversees wheelchairs for HCIL relief distribution.

Photo by HCIL. 


CDS Division

Our Consumer Directed Services Division (CDS) helps people who need attendant care to manage their own attendants and remain in their homes. 

As a growing enterprise since we began in 2007, our client base has increased to over 325 Texans with disabilities and seniors, who employ 350 personal attendants.

New Staff

CTD is pleased to welcome Dyanna Matthews back as a payroll administrator for the CDS Division.

Tiffany Williams, LMSW joins the advocacy team as our Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellow+.

Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities+Financial Support for the CTD Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellowship is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, with Federal funds* made available by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities. *$67,500 (79%) DD funds; $17,947 (21%) non-federal resources.

General support of CTD provided by

St. David's Foundation

View or download CTD's 2017 Annual Report as a PDF

Download text only version CTD's 2017 Annual Report