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All people with developmental disabilities are entitled to human, personal, and civil rights. Personal rights mean that people with disabilities have the right to make their own choices and decisions about their lives, just like anyone else. Civil rights guarantee that people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against because of their disability. It is essential to respect and protect the rights of people with disabilities so they can fully participate and contribute to their communities.
The Council recognizes that people with developmental disabilities (DD) are at a higher risk of having their civil rights violated. The equal protection and enforcement of their rights are crucial, as is the liberty to exercise those rights.
The following TCDD-funded projects expanded advocacy skills and training for Texans with DD:
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. Personal and Civil Rights are integrated into TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities, stated below.
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.
Areas of focus for TCDD’s personal and civil rights policy priorities include the following:
The following stories show the impact of TCDD-funded projects on people, organizations, and communities.
TCDD Policy Fellow Impact
During the 88th Texas legislative session in 2023, the TCDD Policy Fellow with NAMI Texas engaged with legislative staffers on House Bill (HB) 1337, which reformed an insurance practice called “step therapy” or “fail first” that required doctors and patients seeking coverage for medication for serious mental health conditions to first show that multiple cheaper alternatives wouldn’t be suitable for their needs. The bill, which was signed by the governor and passed into law, limited the practice so doctors and patients only need to show that one cheaper alternative to their preferred medication didn’t meet their needs. In advocating for this bill, the Policy Fellow reached out to all new members of the House before there was a floor vote. During one of her drop-ins, Rep. Ben Bumgarner was present while she explained the bill. He asked her for an example of what the bill’s changes would look like in the real world. Upon going step-by-step through what happens for individuals through the “step therapy” practice, Bumgarner immediately explained how this bill would impact him personally. He explained how he must “fail first” on multiple medications with his medical conditions and said he would support the bill because he knows how important it is for patients to be on the right treatment for them sooner rather than later.
Project Leadership Challenge
Down Home Ranch participated in Project Leadership Challenge in 2019 with hopes to improve professional development and ensure sustainability after the departure of the organization’s founders. Through Project Leadership Challenge, the new executive director was able to assist in the development of orientation videos, internal training programs, new job descriptions, and methods to best support staff. By establishing these practices, Down Home Ranch has continued to flourish and give individuals with DD the opportunity to exercise their independence, learn new skills, and make their own choices. Through the organization’s programs, an individual discovered their love for woodworking and established an online store to sell his products. Another participant was able to reside in one of the three microhomes that Down Home Ranch built on its property, and the participant was able to decorate their new place to their liking, define their own daily schedule, and be the primary decision-maker in their life.
Applying Advocacy Skills
One Texas Partners in Policymaking participant applied the leadership and advocacy training skills learned through the program to advocate for an increase in funding for the Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities Medicaid waiver program in Texas. The participant was also appointed to the board and legislative committee of the Deaf-blind Multi-handicapped Association of Texas. After obtaining these positions, the participant built a relationship with their elected official and gained their support in submitting a bill rider to supplement their request for additional funding which was officially added to HB 1, the bill that determines the state budget, during the 88th Texas legislative session in 2023.
Keep up with the Texas Legislature
TCDD’s Policy Team is active during Texas Legislative Sessions. We offer multiple informational resources throughout session to keep the public informed on activity at the Capitol and how to engage with legislators. You can access these resources on our Texas Legislative Sessions webpage.
Legislative Advocacy Resources
Your advocacy efforts are an essential factor in helping shape public policy. TCDD has compiled legislative advocacy resources to help guide advocates. These resources include information about contacting your representative, how to give public testimony, and advocacy opportunities.
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