Texas State Independent Living Council — Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training

Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training

State Plan for Independent Living graphic

  • Impact
    • 585 individuals participated in the 2013 and 2014 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference
      • Participants learned about advocacy and how to become stronger leaders
    • Some individuals received stipends, enabling them to attend the conference
      • Geographic reach for stipend recipients increased by almost 20% from 2013 to 2014
    • Participants and organizers advocated for accessibility in local venues around the conference, giving conference members access to restaurants and other establishments
    • Representation at the conference of businesses and organizations grew by more than 100% from 2013 to 2014

Statewide Need
There is a continued need for the development of training programs and resources to assist Texans with developmental disabilities and their families to learn leadership and advocacy skills. To do this, leadership development and advocacy skills training programs must exist in many different areas around the state. Because it is unlikely that anyone organization can provide enough funding to meet the demand, it is imperative that organizations that offer this kind of training work with others. This structure will support the development and/or expansion of sustainable leadership and advocacy training efforts.

Project Goal
Hold an annual statewide, cross-disability, multi-agency conference to promote the independent living philosophy.

Project Summary
The Texas State Independent Living Council (SILC) held an annual Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference to provide Texans with an opportunity to learn advocacy skills and leadership training. Project Advisory Committee (PAC) members and SILC staff advocated for access and inclusion at local establishments to ensure that the conference was accessible to all attendees.

While at the 2013 conference in Corpus Christi, one PAC member demonstrated that the men’s bathroom was inaccessible to his wheelchair at the Holiday Inn hotel. The hotel remodeled the men’s room. When participants could not access the beach in Corpus Christi, the city laid down a wheelchair mat with access up to the water’s edge for the conference. Following the conference, he and other attendees visited the Capitol to speak to their legislators about Independent Living and needs faced statewide.

Other PAC members made similar impacts in their local communities.

    • One attendee pointed out and demonstrated a dangerous grade of a ramp outside the Pier 99 restaurant in Corpus Christi. Pier 99 later sent pictures of a modified ramp.
    • Another conference participant attended a hearing where he was the only advocate for low vision and blindness. He helped establish outreach with the Criss Cole Center. There, SILC staff learned about more accommodations regarding Braille, and SILC staff now have Braille and upraised letter nameplates and business cards.

Due to targeted outreach efforts, the conferences have seen growing participation across the state. At the 2013 conference, 289 attendees represented 50 businesses and organizations. At the 2014 conference, the 296 attendees represented 109 businesses, organizations, and committees.

The project provided stipends for some participants to attend. The 2013 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference had 57 stipend recipients representing 15 Texas cities. The 2014 conference provided stipends to 51 individuals from 19 Texas cities.

Project Period
Feb 2012 – Jan 2015

4319 James Casey St., Suite 100
Austin, TX 78745

Geographic Reach

shape of state of Texas colored orange