West Texas Disability Resource Conference

Event date: May 2-3, 2014 | Location: Abilene, Texas

West Texas Disability Resource Conference

West Texas Conference Report

When CTD, Community NOW!, and Texas Parent to Parent decided to partner to hold an event, we knew that we wanted to reach out to an underserved area of the state. By delivering essential information and connecting with individuals and organizations in West Texas, we have strengthened our own networks and increased the capacity of conference attendees to advocate for and support themselves.

Thanks to everyone for a great conference!

At a glance

Total attendees: 97, including 44 stipend recipients


3 lead organizations

7 co-hosting local groups

Friday Night highlights

John Thomas was "very outspoken and very funny." - attendee survey
A little man gesticulates while standing on a chair.

65 attendees attended the Friday night Reception and Interactive Advocacy Exercise. Guest speaker John Thomas (left) kicked off the evening with a motivational speech, Working a Room, on how to make the most of attending an event by effectively networking and delivering a message in a way that people won’t forget. By the end of his speech, attendees were energized and motivated to meet new people and to engage throughout the weekend.

This was the perfect segue into our Interactive Advocacy Exercise. For this activity, we placed attendees into small groups and gave each one a brief fact sheet on an issue currently facing the disability community. After working together to prepare a three-minute pitch, the groups practiced speaking with ten mock legislators, played by organizers and special guests. Each mock legislator had been provided a fact sheet identifying their party and platforms, which they stuck to for their interactions. This gave attendees a chance to think about how to deliver their message in a variety of situations.

At the end of the exercise, our mock legislators voted on the issues, all while giving constructive criticism and feedback to everyone. It was one of the most talked about portions of the conference!

Saturday highlights

Saturday, we kicked off the event with a packed house of about 100 attendees and a video message that Representative Susan King prepared especially for the conference. She emphasized being good advocates and the importance of getting to know one's legislator. John Thomas followed with a Keynote address that built on his comments from the night before.

In the next session, Medicaid Managed Care, experts weighed in on big changes coming to Medicaid. The topics covered included service delivery in rural areas, the “Community First Choice Option,” and the outcomes of the PASRR lawsuit that is allowing more Texans with disabilities to leave institutions and receive the services they need to live in the community.

Attendees also responded strongly to “personal stories of empowerment,” like David Chapple’s account of his experience leaving a nursing home.
A man sits in a power chair, eyes cast down at a screen, while a microphone is held up to his speaking device.

During lunch, attendees enjoyed the true-life stories of two young men with disabilities who solved problems often faced by the disability community and have advocated for change. The crowd was delighted by presenters David Chapple (right) and Jake Pinner.

The remainder of the conference was devoted to breakout sessions, which covered a variety of timely subjects, including family resources, CIL services, and legislative issues (see agenda below for full program details). Attendees rated the breakouts very well on the conference survey, with each session averaging a score of 4.2 or higher out of 5.

Check out more conference photos on our Facebook page.

Agenda  Agenda