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Rehabilitation Council of Texas 2014 Annual Report

Year in Review


In fiscal year 2014 the Rehabilitation Council of Texas partnered with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and Division for Blind Services (DBS) to design and conduct the comprehensive statewide needs assessment (CSNA). The University of Texas School of Social Work was contracted by DARS to take a more focused and scientific approach to conducting the CSNA. The RCT will work with DARS to continue to analyze the results of the CSNA.

In addition, council members organized and facilitated nine town hall meetings across the state in Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Laredo, McAllen, Midland, and San Antonio. This process included locating public meeting rooms, arranging for computer assisted real-time translation, obtaining large print and braille materials, and promoting the town hall meetings. Council members emailed meeting information to their local networks, and DARS
staff members sent notices to stakeholders and field offices. Council members were pleased with the turnout and the feedback received from consumers and vendors. The RCT gave a special recognition to council member Roger Cortez for driving more than 1,290 miles across Texas to co-facilitate several town hall meetings.

RCT members provided input on the definition of “most significant” disability; they plan to revisit the definition after the conclusion of the CSNA. RCT members also partnered with DRS and DBS to develop the Fiscal Year 2015 State Plans for the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and Supplement for the Supported Employment

Services Program. The council published the 2013 Annual Report, which included the RCT’s accomplishments and consumer success stories. In addition, the RCT actively recruited new council members throughout the year, which resulted in the appointment of four new members.

Additionally, the RCT provided input on a number of initiatives during the year. The RCT reviewed consumer satisfaction surveys and provided feedback to DARS. They worked with DARS Commissioner Veronda L. Durden to renew the resource plan and management agreement. The council also worked with DRS and DBS on policies relating to participation in the cost of services for individuals who receive Social
Security Disability Insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income. They worked in coordination with the Client Assistance Program to address policy changes in the areas of self-employment and limited liability company options for consumers. These policy changes will be published in fiscal year 2015.

Other activities included the RCT being represented at the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation spring conference. The RCT also participated in chapter reviews of
the 36 Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, The State Rehabilitation Council-Vocational Rehabilitation Partnership Manual.

The RCT invited the following guest speakers to share information about their programs and topics of special interest:

  • Carla Johnson of Education Service Center Region 11 discussed the Transition Network Services program for students with disabilities in Texas.
  • Gaby Fuentes, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Appointments, discussed the appointment process to the council and noted a backlog of appointments.
  • Desi Holmes of the Texas Workforce Commission made a presentation on the Apprenticeship ┬áprogram.
  • A DARS staff member made a presentation on Employment First legislation and policy.
  • A DARS staff member gave a high-level overview of the strategic plan, including developing vocational rehabilitation strategies to serve more consumers and improve service delivery to meet the needs of students and unserved and underserved populations.
  • DARS consumer Carson Peal, featured in the RCT 2013 Annual Report, spoke about his diagnosis of autism and the services he received that enabled him to attend college and obtain his first job.