Public Policy Priorities

Learn more about TCDD’s public policy priorities and position statements and how they guide our policy work and advocacy.   

Public Policy Priorities

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD), which is established in state and federal law, is governed by 27 Governor-appointed board members, 60 percent of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) or family members of individuals with disabilities. The Council’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Increase the protections for the personal and civil rights of Texans with disabilities. Texans with disabilities deserve to understand and exercise their personal and civil rights in order to lead safe and successful lives as independently as possible, and they deserve equal protection when their rights are infringed upon.

Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: Standardize the definitions, investigatory processes, data collection and reporting, training, and communications across all agencies to better prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities and to hold responsible individuals and authorities accountable.

Sexual Assault: Improve systems for sexual assault survivors with disabilities to report and receive services following an assault in the community or facilities such as group homes and state supported living centers. Establish accountability measures for facilities where a sexual assault occurs, addressing assailants – whether they are employees or residents – as well as facility administration.

Guardianship Practices: Strengthen person-centered approaches to guardianship by ensuring that it is a last resort. Ensure that all necessary legal protections stay in place or are strengthened for individuals who are under guardianship. Bolster accountability measures to prevent schools, medical professionals, and any other state- or federally-funded entity, directly or indirectly, from coercing families into obtaining guardianship. Revisit revocation practices to make it easier for individuals to terminate guardianship should their circumstances change in the future.

Guardianship Information Access: Require courts to educate individuals who will have a guardian what their rights will be once guardianship is established. Require courts to educate a potential guardian about the individual’s rights, including mandated person-centered practices trainings before guardianship is granted and on an annual basis for the duration of their role as a guardian. Require courts to educate medical professionals who determine a medical necessity for guardianship on all support options and how each support option may work with different levels of need, as well as any other service providers that may engage in third-party guardianship arrangements that need to be educated on disability-related issues in order assist their clients. Standardize definitions between family law and probate law throughout the state.

Voting Access: Ensure Texans with disabilities have equal access to voting by establishing a more accessible and timely method for signature curing, broadening the assister’s oath to better reflect the right to assistance protected under federal law, and developing an online mail-in ballot application process. Issue standardized, accessible information on the rights of voters with disabilities, and establish and enforce accountability measures for non-compliant voting locations.

Restraint and Seclusion: Standardize the definitions, data collection and reporting, training, and communications across all agencies to maximize the use of best practices and lessen the unnecessary use of dangerous restraint and seclusion procedures, including related practices such as time-out.

Poll Watchers: Require poll watchers to be trained specifically on accessibility and disability assistance at the polls; establish and enforce accountability measures for poll watchers who violate an individual’s voting rights.

Raise accessibility standards in Texas to promote community inclusion and ensure equal access.
Texans with disabilities deserve to live in communities which are accessible to them in all aspects of their lives, including meeting basic needs in places outside of the home and utilizing the various modes of transportation.

Accessible Parking: Strengthen the enforcement and increase the availability of accessible parking spaces. Address placard fraud and abuse of parking in striped spaces by revising criminal and civil penalties and improving public awareness. Develop innovative, collaborative solutions to adjust for the growing demand of accessible parking spaces as our population ages and more people acquire or are diagnosed with mobility disabilities.

Accessible Transportation: Improve the availability of safe, reliable, affordable, and accessible transportation by expanding the reach of paratransit, introducing more flexible pick-ups within those services, and securing accessible rideshare opportunities. Expand capacity in suburban, urban, rural, and unincorporated areas to connect places people live with places they work, socialize, worship, attend school, access health care, etc.

Home Modifications: Support the codification of the Amy Young Barrier Removal Program which provides grants to low-income individuals with disabilities to make modifications to their homes to increase accessibility and eliminate hazardous conditions.

City Planning and Development: Increase the number of people with disabilities on building, city planning and development, and architectural committees and boards. Ensure their voices are heard and their experiences are taken into full consideration to address common accessibility shortcomings such as: crosswalks and traffic signals that are too high or do not include auditory components, accessible bathrooms without adult changing stations, playgrounds that do not accommodate mobility equipment, and entry ways with inappropriately placed ramps and automatic door buttons.

Inclusive Meetings: Ensure all public meetings are fully accessible by requiring and enforcing the use of plain language and real-time captioning, and allowing participants to present comment in their preferred form of communication in public and legislative hearings. The Texas Legislature and state agencies should accept comments and testimonies in the following formats: written, spoken, audio recording, video recording, and images.

Ensure children with disabilities ages 0-22 receive necessary services to promote healthy growth and development to support long-term success and independence. Children with disabilities in Texas deserve access to quality care and education such as inclusive childcare, therapy and case management services, special education services, and transition planning, which meet or exceed federal standards to increase childhood and long-term outcomes. 

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Services: Address the gaps between state funding and the required services for a growing population of infants and toddlers who enroll in ECI. Support efforts to maximize and streamline funding for ECI in Texas by working collaboratively with other state agencies, ECI programs, and lawmakers. Support efforts to increase efficiencies within ECI by addressing continuing eligibility, engaging in state-specific research on ECI’s long-term impact, and ensuring families are fully educated about available services, including Medicaid waiver interest lists. 

Early Pickups: Require documentation for all school-initiated early pickups and shortened school days for students with disabilities, and eliminate the prevalence of unreported early pickups across the state.

Special Education Services: Ensure that students with disabilities are being supported and are receiving a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Hold Local Education Agencies (LEAs) accountable and ensure the enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504. Finally, ensure that students with disabilities that have experienced a disruption in learning, services, or supports receive the compensatory services they are due. 

Transition Planning: Increase the number of transition and employee designees (TEDs) in Texas to better accommodate the number of transition-age students in need of services. Strengthen policies and education around transition to include outcome measurements for the school and the student where the student is encouraged to take more responsibility for monitoring as they get closer to graduation. Establish and maintain accountability measures for schools who do not meet planning requirements.

Ensure Texans with disabilities have access to competitive and integrated employment opportunities. Texans with disabilities deserve access to competitive and integrated employment opportunities. Texas should strictly adhere to the state-adopted Employment First Policy by addressing barriers to community-based employment by expanding training, supported employment, and opportunities for advancement, including funding Medicaid waivers that offer employment supports. 

Employment First: Establish an Office of Employment First housed in the Texas Workforce Commission with interagency collaboration to ensure Texans with disabilities can access technical support for navigating employment services in Texas. Require representatives from Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Education Agency, and the Health and Human Services Commission to meet regularly under the Office of Employment First to coordinate on and stay apprised of the various transition and employment services available.

Subminimum Wage: Require all Texans of all abilities to be paid no less than the federal minimum wage.

Medicaid Waiver Income Limits: Establish a forgiveness program for individuals who earn up to $100.00 over their Medicaid Waiver income limits irregularly and fewer than 3 months out of the year. Improve communication regarding income limits and when individuals surpass their income limit by informing waiver recipients via phone, letter, and email. In instances where a person is no longer eligible for the waiver due to income limits, provide at least 30-day notice before withdrawing services.

Day Habilitation: Fill funding gaps between Home and Community-Based Settings Rule requirements and program staff capacity. With proper funding, ensure day habilitation centers fully realize the HCBS Settings Rule and Employment First Policy by establishing requirements for programs to provide employment preparation and support such as job application submissions, financial literacy trainings, and visits to potential employers and employment support locations as community outings with program attendees.

Ensure Texans with disabilities have equal access to and are proactively included in using all community resources designed to maintain and improve individual and public health and safety, including during public health emergencies. Texans with disabilities deserve health care that is available, accessible, and affordable, as well as emergency planning that is responsive to their needs. 

Medicaid: Strengthen the Medicaid system by utilizing evidence-based practices, providing payments that attract qualified staff, and giving timely, corrective attention to complaints and problems. 

Complex Mental Health Needs: Require health care providers statewide to be educated on and incorporate emerging research and best practices in the treatment of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who also have mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

Emergency Preparedness: Reinforce the state’s responsibility for requiring and assisting local jurisdictions to develop and implement public safety plans that include meeting the needs of people with disabilities in all emergencies. 

Plain Language: Ensure all agency communications with providers and people seeking or receiving services are easy to understand.

Ensure that current funding levels for vital programs that support Texans with disabilities are maintained and increased. Texans with disabilities deserve access to services and supports that are sufficiently funded by state lawmakers.

State Budget: Ensure that the Legislature prioritizes the needs of Texans with disabilities when appropriating state funds. Maintain and increase funding levels for vital programs and supports such as Medicaid Waiver Programs, Early Childhood Intervention Services, Independent Living Services, Vocational Rehabilitative Services, Attendant Wages and others.

Raise the minimum requirement for rates and wages of community attendants in Texas who work with people with disabilities, and provide training to better prepare them to meet the needs of those they assist. Community attendants deserve fair and livable wages. Increasing attendant wages and standardizing training will reduce workforce turnover rates and provide more opportunities for Texans with disabilities to be fully included within their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Public Policy Priorities

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD), which is established in state and federal law, is governed by 27 Governor-appointed board members, 60 percent of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) or family members of individuals with disabilities. The Council’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Position Statements

TCDD draws from the values identified in the federal Developmental Disabilities Act in evaluating and responding to current and future policy and funding issues that might affect the developmental disabilities community. We support legislation that advances the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life by eliminating barriers, creating opportunities, empowering people, and promoting innovation.

TCDD supports the position that all people with developmental disabilities have the right to safe, accessible, affordable, and integrated housing. Home and community-based care services and supports should be widely available to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to live and remain in the community throughout their lifespan. Furthermore, each person has unique needs and preferences, and adults with disabilities should have the opportunity to exercise self-determination and decide with whom and where in their community they would like to live.

TCDD supports the position that the full inclusion of people with disabilities in community life requires that they are informed about and understand the array of service and support options available to them, and that they meaningfully participate and lead in the planning and directing of the services they receive.

TCDD supports the position that people with developmental disabilities deserve respectful, prompt, and efficient assistance during “shelter in place,” evacuation, and relocation resulting from a natural disaster or emergency event. Individuals must have access to appropriate and accessible transportation, shelter, medical and mental health care, and information on temporary support services.

TCDD supports the position that all people, regardless of their disability, age, or income level, should have access to affordable, comprehensive health care. The Council supports efforts and initiatives to increase the accessibility, affordability, and effectiveness of health care for everyone.

TCDD supports the position that all children belong in families where they feel loved and cared for, with the opportunity to learn to be successful and the potential for independence. To ensure this, families should have access to supports and services necessary to provide sustained care throughout the lifespan of a child, a sibling, or an adult family member with disabilities.

TCDD supports the position that all individuals with developmental disabilities, regardless of age, should have resources and timely access to opportunities and the supports necessary to make their own decisions and be included in community life, have interdependent relationships, live in homes and communities, prevent unnecessary institutionalization and isolated settings, and make contributions to their families and communities.

TCDD supports the state’s Employment First law. People with developmental disabilities have the right to pursue and obtain meaningful employment with competitive wages, job training, professional growth, and career enhancement. Opportunities for employment in the community, and the supports needed to seize those opportunities, must be readily available to people with disabilities without discrimination or segregation.

TCDD supports the position that transportation options – including paratransit, rideshare services, and autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles – are essential to quality of life and integration into the community, and must meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in a safe, reliable, convenient, affordable, timely, and accessible manner.

TCDD supports the position that people with developmental disabilities – whether as victims, suspects, or witnesses of a crime – have the right to impartial justice, fair treatment, and reasonable accommodations in all areas of the criminal justice system.

TCDD supports the position that all students with developmental disabilities have a right to an appropriate, individualized, and quality education, alongside their non-disabled peers, that empowers and prepares them for life post-graduation.

TCDD supports increasing opportunities for and protecting the self-determination and civil rights of people with developmental disabilities. Independent or supported decision-making must be the first and preferred option for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including when guardianship is being explored.

TCDD supports the position that students with disabilities should be equipped to enter postsecondary education, the workforce, and their communities ready to pursue opportunities that are both relevant and meaningful. Students with disabilities should be given opportunities to develop the self-advocacy skills necessary to foster independence and fulfillment in life after graduation.

TCDD supports the position that all people with developmental disabilities are entitled to human, personal, and civil rights, including the right to privacy. The Council recognizes that people with developmental disabilities are at a higher risk of having their civil rights violated; therefore, the equal protection and enforcement of their rights are crucial, as is the liberty to exercise those rights.

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