Disability History in Texas From Isolation to Participation a history of Disability in Texas, 1835 – 1999

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In reflection, the Lone Star State can be proud of its leaders with disabilities. Both the early pioneers with disabilities who led the Republic and the disability advocates of today shaped our state for all Texans, including persons with disabilities. If we continue the rate of progress seen in the last quarter century, Texans with disabilities will become more equal participants in our great state. We have certainly moved from isolation to participation in education, employment, public service, housing and transportation. The next century will magnify this participation.

Texans Honored

Two current Texas leaders exemplify the roles Texans with disabilities play today in charting the course of the future.

Justin Dart Jr., former chairman of the Governor's Committee and a longtime activist for the rights of people with disabilities, received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in January 1998. At a White House ceremony, President Clinton praised Dart for his tireless efforts to promote the passage of the ADA, and for touring every state in the Union to discuss disability rights in public forums. Typical of Dart, he asked persons with disabilities in attendance to share the medal by putting it around their necks.
Lex Frieden, senior vice president at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine, and project director for the Southwest Disability Business Technical Assistance Center, earned the honor of being the Henry B. Betts Award laureate for his instrumental role in the development of the ADA. Governor George W. Bush congratulated Frieden, stating, "I commend you for your vision, your energy, and your commitment to developing and promoting independent living. People like you help make Texas and America better places to live."

About the Governor's Committee

The Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities consists of 12 volunteer members appointed by the Governor (seven of whom must be persons with disabilities). There are four additional ex officio members representing state agencies serving people with disabilities. The Committee meets at least quarterly and is supported by a small staff. The mission of the Governor's Committee is to further opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy full and equal access to a life of independence, productivity, and self determination.


Members (as of 1999)

Judy C. Scott., Chair, Dallas

Aaron W. Bangor, Ph.D., Austin

Hon. Daphne Brookins, Forest Hill

Joe Bontke, Houston

Elizabeth (Peggy) Cosner, Belton

David A. Fowler, Katy

Roland Guzman, San Antonio

Brian D. Shannon, J.D., Lubbock

Nancy K. Shugart, Austin

Kathy Strong, Nacogdoches

Shane Whitehurst, Austin

(one vacancy)

Ex Officio Agency Members

Adelaide Horn, Commissioner, Texas Dept. of Aging and Disability

Terrell Murphy, Commissioner, Texas Dept. of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services

Ben Delgado, Interim Commissioner, Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services

Albert Hawkins, Commissioner, Texas Health and Human Services Commission

David L. Lake, M.D., Commissioner, Texas Dept. of State Health Services

William H. Kuntz, Jr., Exec. Dir., Texas Dept. of Licensing and Regulation

Tom Paulken, Chair/Commissioner, Texas Workforce Commission

Governor's Committee Staff

Angi English, Executive Director -- aenglish@governor.state.tx.us

Additional Assistance

Jane Manaster, writer/researcher

Mailing Address

P. O. Box 12428

Austin, Texas 78711

Physical Location

1100 San Jacinto

Austin, Texas 78701

Telephone Numbers

512-463-5739 (Voice)

512-463-5746 (TDD)

512-463-5745 (Fax)
Relay Texas, dial 711 or the service provider of your choice

Accessible Formats

This document is available in the following accessible formats: braille, audio (cassette) tape, or computer disk.

The Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.

Photo Cutlines:

1. Erastus "Deaf" Smith, Chief of Scouts under General Sam Houston during the Texas Revolution, is pictured on this five dollar vintage currency note. Reports indicate that he was hearing impaired and also had "defective eyesight".

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

2. "The Republic of Texas is no more." President Anson Jones, annexation ceremony, February 19, 1846. In 1849 he lost the use of his left arm and later experienced depression.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

3. Anson Jones from Baker's Texas Scrapbook.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

4. Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio employed workers who are blind during the early 1950's. This employee repaired electronic equipment and performed routine electronical tests.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

5. R. M. Williamson ("Three-Legged Willie") was a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention, participated in the battle of San Jacinto, and served in the Senate in both the Republic and the State of Texas.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

6. Criss Cole served as a Texas Legislator beginning in 1955. He helped pass bills regarding pollution, multiple use of Texas water, and the establishment of the Padre Island National Seashore. He was blinded in World War II.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

7. "Texas School for the Deaf" Thirty-Third Annual Report, 1889

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

8. The Texas School for the Blind Students & Exhibits

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

9. Calisthenics performed by people at Big Springs State Hospital.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

10. In the 1870's students at the Texas Deaf and Dumb Asylum printed both information for state agencies and their own newsletter called the Texas Mute Ranger.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

11. "Deaf & Dumb & Blind Institute - 1941" Graduating Class Composite.

"Texas State Library and Archives Committee"

12 Justin W. Dart, Jr. shares his Presidential Medal of Freedom with Greg Smith, founder of On-A-Roll Radio.

13. Lex Frieden, senior vice president TIRR (center), winner of the Henry B. Betts Award of $50,000, receives honors at a Houston reception hosted by TIRR, Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Medical Center. E. Ashley Smith, TIRR Systems' President and Chief Administrative Officer (right), and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (left) congratulate Frieden.

Knock out quote: Governor George W. Bush congratulated Frieden, stating, "I commend you for your vision, your energy and your commitment to developing and promoting independent living. People like you help make Texas and America better places to live."

14. President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act at 10:26 a.m. on July 26, 1990; witnessed by more than 3,000 people from every state. Pictured are EEOC chairman Evan Kemp (left), Justin W. Dart Dr., chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (right), the Rev. Harold Wilke, and National Council on Disability chairperson Sandra Parrino (standing).

Knock out quote:

"Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down." President George Bush

15. In 1993 Barbara Jordan presented Donna Cline of KENS TV in San Antonio a Barbara Jordan Award Medallion.

Knock out quote

"If America is to remain a productive nation, it must use the power and energy of each one of its citizens. The reality of a person with a disability does not exempt that individual from contributing to the growth of the nation. Every life has value and a person with a disability is no less a citizen and should be honored with the rights and opportunities available to all people." Barbara Jordan, 1993

16. Disability organizations advocate together in the 1980's at Disability Rally Day.

17. Greg Abbott, the first Texas Supreme Court Justice who uses a wheelchair, swore in the new Governor's Committee members in 1996.

18. In 1981, recognized artist Edna Marie Moore presented one of her bluebonnet paintings, The Glory of Spring, to the State of Texas. Governor Clements accepted the gift.

Knock out quote: "This celebration is a time for all Texans to remember the brave men and women who fought for our independence, and it is also a time to dedicate ourselves to the removal of barriers which impair a disabled person's search for complete independence." The chairman of the Council on Disabilities Task Force on the Sesquicentennial event

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