AUSTIN, Texas (Mar. 26, 2014) Statewide and local disability groups are organizing the West Texas Disability Resource Conference, to be held May 2-3 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Abilene. This event aims to provide an opportunity to address topics of critical interest for West Texans with disabilities, family members, and professionals working in disability-related fields.
The conference will open Friday early evening with guest speaker John Thomas, of the Joseph Thomas Foundation and No Podium Needed. Representative Susan King (HD-71, Abilene) is scheduled to speak on Saturday morning. Workshop presenters will address topics and resources specific to the West Texas area, including changes in Medicaid, service delivery in rural areas, acute care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and new benefits in managed care. Self-advocates will be in attendance to discuss problem solving through advocacy and strategies for organizing in rural areas. Interactive training activities are also on the agenda.

"The disability community acquires information from peers, support groups, disability organizations and government sources," says Dennis Borel, Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), one of the conference organizers. "With this conference, we want to deliver essential information and connect underserved west Texans with these resources, all the more critical in a changing environment."

Regular registration is $50 (not including the cost of hotel room, which attendees can book at a discounted rate before April 13). Financial assistance is also available; applications are due by April 11. Registration, stipend applications, and updated program information can by found at bit.ly/WTDRC.

The event is co-organized by a team of statewide disability advocacy groups, CTD, Community NOW!, and Texas Parent to Parent. Local co-hosts include the ABLE Center for Independent Living, the Burkhart Center for Autism Research (Texas Tech University), Disability in Action, the LIFE/RUN Center for Independent Living, the Panhandle Center for Independent Living, and the Texas Panhandle Centers Behavioral and Developmental Health.