Upcoming and Past Programs

Learn about disability events, both regional and statewide.

Disability Employment Awareness Series

Join TCDD and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for a series of Disability Employment Awareness panels to discuss the latest resources and best practices for inclusive hiring and workplace culture.

People with disabilities make up one of the largest diversified groups in the workplace. In 2018, approximately 34.9% of adults with disabilities in the U.S. were employed. For many adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Texas, seeking employment can be difficult. As labor shortages increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this untapped labor pool can serve as a valuable recruitment resource for employers. There is a need to address the significant challenges and barriers and move toward IDD employment awareness and preparedness.

The free webinars are held via Zoom. Use the following menus to learn more about a program and to register for an upcoming event.

Upcoming Programs

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021
10 AM to 11 AM
Register for the Ready to Work webinar
Download the Ready to Work handout (PDF)

Many students experience challenges as they transition from the classroom to the workplace. For individuals with disabilities, who face higher unemployment rates than their peers without disabilities, this transition comes with additional challenges. During this webinar, which will be held via Zoom, Dr. Lakshmi Mahadevan will cover soft-skills training, opportunities for workplace exposure, employee retention, and strategies for remote work. Attendees will learn about concepts and topics such as self-advocacy, self-determination, requesting accommodations, ongoing adaptations, and developing advancement skills in the workforce.

Presenter:  Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D., associate professor and extension specialist for special populations at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Mahadevan has a doctorate in educational psychology with an emphasis in career development education from Texas A&M University. Her areas of expertise include universal design for learning and accessible curriculum. Mahadevan has more than 15 years of experience in conducting face-to-face and online professional development with educators in Texas addressing special populations-related issues. Mahadevan evaluates the accessibility of educational programs; oversees the curriculum and quality control of a community-based life skills program for young adults between 18 and 24 years old; and provides expertise on advancing equity in career and technical education.

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021
10 AM to 11 AM
Register for the Ready to Hire webinar

Vocational rehabilitation services are designed to prepare students with disabilities for  employment opportunities after they graduate. Employment preparation strategies include resources to help people find jobs and develop strategies for long-term employment. Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides support for youth and students with disabilities seeking employment opportunities. This webinar will be led by Vanessa Vera, business relations coordinator for the Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division, who will discuss vocational rehabilitation services, training opportunities, Social Security benefits, and employment navigation. The webinar will be held via Zoom.

Presenter: Vanessa Vera, business relations coordinator, Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division

Vera was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. She has dedicated her professional career to working with people with disabilities. Vera began her career with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services in 2008 as a specialty vocational counselor serving individuals who were deaf or hard of hearing. In her position with the Texas Workforce Commission, Vera continues to work with businesses in bringing inclusion and diversity into the workplace.

Vera received an associate degree of applied science in interpreting for the deaf in 2004 from Del Mar College, a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas Pan American in 2008, and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling in 2011. Vera is an active member of many advisory councils and coalitions working to improve services and supports.

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021
10 AM to 11:30 AM
Register for the Ready to Help webinar

Individuals with disabilities and their families often ask: To work or not to work? This two-part webinar, which will be held via Zoom, will explore the importance of identifying roles of family members and other support persons involved in the career preparation and job search. Candace Davis, a rehabilitation services professional, will discuss the positive impact family support can have on people seeking employment.

Presenter: Candace Davis, Guidepost Workforce Support

Davis is a rehabilitation services professional in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the owner and director of Guidepost Workforce Support, a community rehabilitation services organization under contract with the Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services Department. She began her career working with children ages 18 months to 13 years in applied behavior analysis, providing early intensive behavioral intervention therapy and life-skills training. She started working in vocational rehabilitation in 2013, providing supported employment and job placement services to adults.

Today, Davis specializes in working with individuals with autism as well as assisting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who are blind or have vision loss. Davis received a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts with a minor in applied behavior analysis from the University of North Texas in 2011.

Past Programs

This panel included discussions on best practices for hiring people with IDD; understanding and meeting the needs of employees with IDD; understanding the benefits of an inclusive working environment; expectations, challenges, and keys to success for employees with IDD; and accommodations and legal issues

Panelists included Heather Choate from The Dual After School Program, Elizabeth Kendall from the H-E-B Disability Bridges Program, Chevella Layne from Goodwill Industries of East Texas, and Brad and Karen Thompson from The TURN Center and The HALI Project. The panel was moderated by TCDD Regional Coordinators Morgan Bradley and Rosa Guel.

View a recording of the Employer Panel.

This panel highlighted self-advocates (people with disabilities) from across the state. Panel discussions covered each self-advocate’s journey to employment; resources for job seekers; professional development and training opportunities; and challenges and barriers in the workplace.

Panelists included Kyle Cox, Jesse Garza, Hali Thompson, and TCDD Council Member Eric Shahid. The panel was moderated by TCDD Regional Coordinators Morgan Bradley and Rosa Guel.

View a recording of the Self-Advocates Panel.