Houston Deaf Rally Educates Community about the Need for Live Interpreters

Thursday, Aug. 18, despite thunderstorms, a group of advocates who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing stood up at the Houston City Hall for their right to have preference given to their choice of accommodation at their doctor’s offices or hospitals.

People all wearing white NO VRI, Video Remote Interpreters T-shirts, hold rally signs saying NO VRI.
Houston advocates represented the Deaf Community at City Hall.

Despite recent law revisions, the Deaf community braces for the education needed to ensure that a person who is Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind will receive the accommodation of their choice at appointments with their health care providers.

KPFT’s Local News Reporter, Jacob Santillan, covered the event. Listen to the broadcast here or read the broadcast transcript here below the mp3 recording.

Many doctors and hospitals protest paying for live interpreters and in many cases now, people who are Deaf are provided with Video Remote Interpreters, or VRI, without regard to their specific need for accommodation.

The resistance from doctors, hospitals, and clinics to providing interpreters has been nationwide, as evidenced by cases taken up by the U.S. Department of Justice across America as part of the Barrier-Free Healthcare Initiative.

Recent changes involve health care providers adopting Video Remote Interpreting programs to save money instead of asking patients from the Deaf community what they need.

Communication problems addressed by some of the above legal cases would make some health care providers wonder if they would save money after all, if remote interpreting services fail due to technical errors or the physical limitations of having an interpreter over a small screen with a small voice.

A woman signs to a group of people.
Advocates gather around as Dr. Angela Trahan signs. A sign language interpreter voices for people who are hearing.

At the rally, Deaf advocate Robert Yost pointed to a flaw in the Americans with Disabilities Act as the source of problems people who are Deaf have when requesting interpreters for health care.

“Once the law was being passed, it was done by the business community that made an influence on Congress people to vote and put that one word in there that says ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ and that one word is realized that businesses, doctors, medical centers, police departments, everywhere, to have a right to do the cheapest way to interpret for Deaf people,” Yost said, according to the KPFT report.

Other advocates stressed their choice to have their preference of accommodation met.

Man signs to a group of people, some filming him.
Advocate Dana Mallory signs his views.

Advocate Dana Mallory signed, according to the report, “So I am here to recognize the problems we are noticing here in the Deaf community, preferring to have in an emergency situation a live person rather than a video remote interpreter. To meet their goals, we as Deaf would prefer to have a live person. We want to be able to have the choice.”

Having news radio coverage wasn’t lost on Sign Shares’ CEO and Capsule’s Founder, Eva Storey. “This is unique. I love the fact that we get the hearing world especially public radio coming in here, because the only way to get and make effective for the Deaf community is going to the hearing world, and mainstreaming them and with education. It’s three words we use: Advocate, Educate, and Legislate, and that’s all we are here to do.”

Learn more about the event at Capsule Facebook page. Like our page and stay informed!

Texas Emergency Planning for People with Deafness or Hearing Loss

Hurricane as seen from a satellite in space: clouds spin in circles.
The time to prepare for a storm is before it comes. photo credit: ISS017E015718 via photopin (license)

Texas cities prepare for emergencies and how they will affect people who have a variety of needs, including communication needs. More community input is needed to ensure that existing programs serve a purpose and are easily understood, but emergency preparations have come a long way.

Registering for communication and other needs during disasters

The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry, or STEAR, is a program where people with disabilities may register and list their needs in times of disaster. According to the website, the registry “provides local emergency planners and emergency responders with additional information on the needs in their community.”

The program doesn’t guarantee that accommodations will be available to Texans in time of emergency, since, according to the website, Texas communities use the data in different ways. However, it’s recommended that people who have communication needs register so their local community is aware of their emergency needs.

Register at STEAR here.

Preparing ahead for emergencies

The Texas Department of State Health Services’ Ready or Not? website has checklists, brochures, information, and printable emergency wallet cards to help people prepare for emergencies. The site’s Disaster Supply Checklist includes items that people may need for assistive technology, such as hearing aids and hearing aid batteries.

Two men in suits receive questions from an audience.
How government plans ahead for communication access needs for the state’s Deaf Community depends on them learning how large the needs is now. photo credit: Engaging with FEMA Employees via photopin (license)

The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov provides special concerns for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

This includes having a NOAA weather radio or downloading the FEMA Safety App, and they offer unusual considerations, such as taking an older analog TTY phone or captioned phone with you.

Nine service dogs wearing jackets.
Service animals are allowed in shelters, including Hearing Dogs, but owners must be able to answer questions about how the dog is assisting them. Service dogs don’t need to wear a jacket. photo credit: Service Dogs of Hawaii Fi-Do, Training Session, Working Dogs, Job, Group Photo via photopin (license)

They also make recommendations regarding service animals, which may be taken into shelters, provided the individual with a disability remains with them and can answer the necessary two questions.

Do you have suggestions for how Texas could better prepare for emergencies and disasters? Share your ideas with us at the Sign Shares’ and Capsule Facebook pages.



Dallas Community Holds Deaf Celebration Expo Sept. 24

Deaf Celebration LogoThe Dallas/Fort Worth Deaf community is reviving the Deaf Celebration Expo, an event connected to Deaf history.

Kent Kennedy log, saying he is a unique comedian and Flying Hands of LaughterThe expo will take place at Tarrant County College –Trinity River Campus on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. The event will run from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and will have an evening show with Austin Deaf comedian Kent Kennedy, “Flying Hands of Laughter” from 7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

Event planners expect attendance of 1,000 or more people.

Attendee Registration

Register for the Deaf Celebration Expo here to avoid lines at the event. Admission to the expo is free. Admission to the Evening Show is $5.00 per person. Children under 17 are free.

Map of Deaf Celebration locationThe event address is Tarrant County College – Trinity River Campus, 300 Trinity Campus Circle, Downtown Fort Worth, Texas 76102.

Exhibitor Registration

Expo exhibitors will have a unique opportunity to reach the Texas Deaf Community with interpreters available at the event.

Booth fees:

  • $50.00 (Non-Profit Organization)
  • $100.00 (For-Profit Organization)

This is a small, additional for an electric outlet. First come, first serve.

Please attach brochures, photos, detailed drawings or any information about your product(s) and booth as it appears while in operation.

Booth includes a one (1) 7” by 44” identity sign, one (1) 5’-long table, and two (2) folding chairs.

Sponsorships are also available and they are seeking door prize donations.

The deadline to register as an exhibitor is Aug. 31, 2016. Registration forms submitted after the due date will be awarded based on booth availability.

Download Booth Application 2016 (PDF)

Download Booth Application 2016 (DOCX)

Deaf Celebration is a 501c (3) organization.

For exhibitor and sponsor questions, email booth@deafcelebration.org.

History of Deaf Celebration

According to event Chairperson and founder of the Deaf Network of Texas, Grant W. Laird, Jr., “Deaf Celebration has its roots in the Deaf President Now movement that occurred in 1988 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., through which a Deaf president was finally appointed at Gallaudet University serving D/deaf students.”

Deaf Celebration seeks to provide a forum for the D/deaf Community, broaden the public’s knowledge of Deaf culture and heritage, create awareness of organizations “of, for, and by the Deaf,” and provide a forum for “artists, performing artists, and craftspeople that are Deaf,” according to the event’s website.

Interpreters and ASL students will donate their time to facilitate communication between individuals who use sign language and those who can’t.

Contact Grant W. Laird, Jr. with questions at info@deafcelebration.org.

Event Flyer


Word version of flyer.


Capsule: For the Love of Advocacy!

Sharing contributions with the world & future generations, one Capsule at a time! 

On August 16, 2016, Sign Shares, Inc./International announced the website publication of a new business on Facebook:The Capsule Group, known as Capsule. “We are proud to announce our advocacy group’s website is now live!!! Right before the August 18th rally at Houston, City Hall, well that just gives us goosebumps!”

Man uses sign language for interpreter and captions read: "My friends said 'VRI Deny. We choose a live interpreter.' That's a great idea."
Deaf Advocate Robert Yost signs about the right to choose a live interpreter.

The Aug. 18 Houston rally is a consumer-demanded event to address the Deaf Community’s response to the increasing use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, at medical appointments without asking people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing about their preference.

At focus group meetings, advocates who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing urged Capsule and Sign Shares’ staff to help them make a stand for their civil rights.

The rally is just one of Capsule’s time capsules–“sharing contributions with the world & future generations.”

Eva Storey picture: a woman with dark hair smiles.
Detective: Eva Storey, Founder of Capsule.

According to the Founder of Capsule, Detective: Eva Storey on Facebook, “Our late founder asked me one day to bring my passions for all disabilities forward and collaborate my love for advocacy. This includes a main focus on the Deaf & Hard of Hearing communities from local, statewide, to international. It is far time for a different way to advocate, educate & legislate beyond the scope of interpretation and with flexible, creative freedoms.”

Storey has a disability herself, which informs her about the needs for a better way of supporting others with additional needs. “I myself am a five-time stroke survivor with an auto-immune deficiency, but I don’t go around introducing my disabilities. I introduce myself, raw & real. ‘Hi, my name is Detective: Eva Storey, founder of The Capsule Group.'”

Capsule’s mission is “to advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve life!”

According to Capsule’s website, the business exists “For the Love of Advocacy! A Different way to Donate! Advocate, Educate, Legislate!”

By creating Capsule, Storey became the first Capsuler. Meet the rest of the Capsule team.

Register to Join Capsule and begin making your own capsule here.

Fill Your Capsule With Love. Launch.

Follow Your Capsule. It Will Be Loved.

Click here if you would you like to create your own capsule by donating the following for a person with a disability:

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For the Love of Advocacy, Follow Capsule on Facebook.




Deaf Community Holds Rally about Video Remote Interpreting

Capsule and Sign Shares' LogosOn Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, along with Sign Shares, Inc./International, will sponsor a Houston rally for Deaf rights in partnership with the Houston Center for Independent Living, or HCIL.

The community-demand rally, “Deny VRI – Video Remote Interpreting,” will be held on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Houston City Hall.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on the steps of Houston City Hall facing Hermann Square.

Map shows participants will meet at the intersection of McKinney St. and Smith St. at the Houston City Hall.
Once parked at the library, participants will meet at the section of City Hall that’s at the intersection of McKinney and Smith Streets.
Shows map of Houston library and how it's close to Houston's City Hall.
Rally participants can park at the Houston Public Library Central Library and walk from there to nearby City Hall.

Parking will be at Houston Public Library. Parking is on Lamar Street and is $2.00 an hour. Participants will meet at the library and march to City Hall.

The Houston City Hall is located at 901 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002.

The rally concerns the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind communities that experience barriers to proper language communications access by healthcare providers within medical based settings, with the improper use of Video Remote Interpreting, or VRI, rather than giving patients the right to choose the use of a live interpreter(s).

To view advocates who are Deaf sharing about the rally or to learn more details, visit the Capsule event page here.

Woman shows confused expression and captions read: "The Deaf person is completely confused."
Darla Connor, an advocate who’s Deaf, signs about the confusion a person with deafness has when they receive a Video Remote Interpreter at a medical appointment instead of a live interpreter.

“Now VRI…” Darla Connor, an advocate who is Deaf signed,”a Deaf person requests for a sign language interpreter and the doctor says, ‘Yeah, we will go ahead and provide that interpreter for you” and so they [the person who’s Deaf] says, ‘Fine, thank you.’ So the Deaf person is sitting there waiting and surprisingly what do they bring? A VRI screen, and the Deaf person is completely confused. Because they say, ‘I didn’t request for VRI.’ They didn’t clarify.”

Patients’ rights are being sidelined due to healthcare district budgets. Budgets should not jeopardize a person’s medical urgencies and well-being. This is a human rights’ issue and a violation of civil rights. VRI is being pushed upon the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

CGLogo_Confetti_ROUNDEDThrough research held by The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, the group learned that people who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind, are not given their patient rights, or civil rights to be consulted about their preferences, options, or freedom to choose a video remote interpreter versus a live interpreter, since theirs is a 3D, gestural language.

Woman signs showing a small computer screen. Captions read, "Let me explain to you about that."
Dr. Angela Trahan signs about the VRI video screen, showing how it reduces the size of communication.

Dr. Angela K. Trahan, an advocate who’s Deaf, signed, “Now a long time ago, you used to have live interpreters and now we are being given the video screens. We don’t like that, but if we continue to accept that, that means maybe in the future, we won’t have any live interpreters.”

Man uses sign language for interpreter and captions read: "My friends said 'VRI Deny. We choose a live interpreter.' That's a great idea."
Deaf Advocate Robert Yost signs about the right to choose a live interpreter.

“They are oppressing me and they are not giving me my choice,” signed Deaf advocate Robert Yost, “and I am hoping all deaf people will complain about that word ‘reasonable.’ Remove that word and let’s add ‘choices.'”

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act revisions that went into effect this past July affirm the obligation under the Title II regulation of the Americans with Disabilities Act “to give primary consideration to the choice of an aid or service requested by the individual with a disability.”

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsSign Shares Inc. was the first sign language agency in the United States, four years before the American With Disabilities Act came into fruition. When the ADA arrived at the laws to be written around the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, they contacted Sign Shares Inc. to provide them guidance around these communities.

In 2016, Sign Shares reached their 30-year mark within the industry and after seeing the hardships, the denial, and injustices within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, Eva Storey, President and CEO for Sign Shares Inc., founded Capsule, a cross-disability business with a mission to advocate, educate, and legislate on behalf of people of all disabilities to have unlimited access to resources and support needed to achieve life.

The CEO of Sign Shares and Capsule’s Founder, Eva Storey, said, “We have been interpreting for 30 years for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Now we are interpreting for the entire community’s voices.”

For more information or to reserve your space at the meeting, visit the Capsule Event page on Facebook.

Deaf Hawaiian Battles to Save State’s Native Sign Language

Almost as soon as its documented discovery in 2013, Hawaii Sign Language was on its way to extinction.

Linda Lambrecht, a career American Sign Language teacher and past president of the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, is documenting Hawaii Sign Language, or HSL, while its few remaining native signers are still living. She’s one of them.

She hopes they can teach HSL to Hawaiians to preserve it as something that belongs to the Hawaiian Deaf community’s history.

Not long ago, Hawaii faced losing it's native spoken tongue. Now, experts are focused on saving its signed one. photo credit: Cliffs on Molokai Northern Coastline James Brennan Hawaii (27) via photopin (license)
Not long ago, Hawaii faced losing it’s native spoken tongue. Now, experts are focused on saving its signed one. photo credit: Cliffs on Molokai Northern Coastline James Brennan Hawaii (27) via photopin (license)

Lambrecht learned HSL from her older brothers, who are Deaf. According to an article in Hawaii News Today, “‘It wasn’t formal instruction, it was just exposure and that’s what we used to communicate,’ signed Lambrecht, who is also an ASL instructor at Kapi’olani Community College. ‘When foreigners came here and taught American Sign Language it was quite confusing.’”

She presented Hawaii Sign Language to the world at an endangered language conference and stunned the community because a new language hadn’t been discovered in America in decades.

According to the Ethnologue website, which documents the world’s languages, HSL is listed as “nearly extinct,” used by “elderly only.”

Surfer surfing a giant Hawaiian ocean wave.
Will Hawaiians surf this next wave to save a native language? photo credit: Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Contest Waimea Bay Hawaii Febrary 2016 via photopin (license)

Many Hawaiians who are Deaf don’t support HSL.

The results of the battle within the Hawaiian Deaf community about the value of its native sign language versus the more common and powerful American Sign Language will determine whether Hawaiians keep or abandon their unique sign language and its history.

HSL is distinct from American Sign Language. 80 percent of HSL has different vocabulary. Words such as “mother,” “father,” “pig,” and “small” have signs that differ from those of American Sign Language, according to an article in The Guardian.

See examples of HSL compared to ASL here.

Two things led Hawaiians who are Deaf to desert their native sign.

Pictures of a woman's lips while talking.
Some past and present efforts with Deaf education focus on how they can learn to speak, not sign. photo credit: 160318-N-IU636-154 via photopin (license)

The first was the establishment of a Deaf school, which promoted speaking over signing, according to The Guardian article. “‘The turning point, the beginning of the end of HSL,’ according to Barbara Earth [one of Lambrecht’s students], was the founding of Hawaii’s deaf school in 1914. Like most schools at the time, it promoted oralism, the system of lip-reading and speaking that is almost universally despised in Deaf communities for being painful, unnatural and ineffective.’”

When Hawaiians left the islands to become U.S. mainland soldiers, other Hawaiians also left, causing widespread changes, including the loss of HSL. photo credit: 160318-N-IU636-154 via photopin (license)
When Hawaiians left the islands to become U.S. mainland soldiers, other Hawaiians also left, causing widespread changes, including the loss of HSL. photo credit: 160318-N-IU636-154 via photopin (license)

The second language-killing event was Hawaiian military participation during World War II. While soldiers trained on the U.S. mainland, more Hawaiians moved to mainland states to attend college. Since most Americans who were Deaf used American Sign Language, Hawaii’s Deaf community used it too.

ASL became associated with success, education, and even “whiteness.” According to The Guardian article, “‘Deaf people here would put themselves into an inferior category compared to the people who brought ASL. People said, ‘They’re from America, they’re white people, they know better.’”

“…The forward march of ASL, which in certain ways brings people together, also poses a significant danger to many of the estimated 400 sign languages used all over the world – most of which we know nothing about,” according to The Guardian article.

Picture card showing sign language
How many ways are there to sign? Apparently, less and less with the widespread use of American Sign Language. photo credit: Positive signs via photopin (license)

Few Hawaiians sign now in HSL. Some who know it well prefer ASL instead of the native sign language they know that dates back to at least the 1820’s.

For a pilot study conducted by the University of Hawaii and created through the efforts of Linda Lambrecht and her former student, Barbara Earth—researchers located 19 people who were older and two children of Deaf adults who knew fluent HSL, according to the article.

Mildred was one of the most fluent HSL “masters,” but she preferred ASL. According to the article, Linda Lambrecht said, “‘I remember Mildred would always tell me, ‘I don’t like HSL, I like ASL, it’s for educated people like me.

However, when Mildred had a bad fall and was placed into hospice care, she reverted to using HSL, according to the article. “‘Linda visited her recently: “I saw her signing – and I noticed that she had reverted to HSL.’”

Whether anyone will translate HSL in the future depends on the Hawaiian Deaf community.

According to a Hawaii News Report, “”What we need to do is make sure that we have a good grammatical description of the language, make sure that we have a lot of data, then we need to train the deaf adults who use the language to teach it to other deaf and hearing people—and especially to expose children to it,” said James Woodward, an Adjunct Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who helps document HSL.

Learn more about the history of HSL and attempts to preserve and teach it.

See the most popular HSL signs.

Deaf-related Exhibits at the Houston Abilities Expo

The Houston Abilities Expo takes place Aug. 5-7 at the NRG Center. They will have more than 100 exhibitors.

We’ve made a list of exhibitors that would interest people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind.

Exhibit Booths

Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Services

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsSign Shares, Inc./International Booth: 625

Locate an interpreter for the Houston Abilities Expo at the Sign Shares, Inc./International Booth 625.

Sign Shares is the nation’s oldest provider of Sign Language Interpreting Services, created four years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was formulated. Our claim to fame will always be within sign language, but our reputable family has grown. We are pleased to announce our extended family. We are now a full-service, turn-key, Interpreting agency, serving both Deaf and Hearing/Foreign Speaking individuals on an international level. Proudly reaching a Global Scale.

Advocacy and Education

Capsule Group logo with black background and white word Capsule and confetti streaming from word.The Capsule Group and Sign Shares, Inc. Booth: 625

The Capsule Group, known as Capsule, along with Sign Shares, Inc./International, holds monthly meetings together with the Houston Center for Independent Living regarding important issues for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Community. Request a “My Choice” card at the booth if you want live interpreters and no Video Remote Interpreters for your medical appointments. You can also order the cards online. Learn more about your rights at the Capsule/Sign Shares’ booth.

Houston Center for Independent Living (HCIL) Booth: 627

The Houston Center for Independent Living provides services to people with disabilities by people with disabilities. They promote and advocate for the full inclusion, equal opportunity, and participation by consumers with disabilities in all aspects of society. Their services include peer counseling, advocacy, information & referral, employment assistance, independent living skills training, accessible housing and relocation services from institutions to the community, and more.

Houston Commission on Disabilities Booth: 335

The Commission is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the mayor, City Council, department directors and the individual designated by the mayor to head the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Southwest ADA Center Booth: 333

The Southwest ADA Center is part of the ADA National Network. The center provides free information, guidance, training and resources to the public. To get free technical assistance, call 800-949-4232.

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities (Houston) Booth: 633

Special Education Advocacy Booth: 224

Assists parents with the IEP/ARD process in public schools. They work with families, students and schools to bring about goals, expectations and services to meet each child’s unique needs.

Assistive Technology

Relay Texas Booth: 622

Relay Texas-Free Telephone Access for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf/Blind and those with Speech difficulties.

Texas Technology Access Program Booth: 231

The TTAP promotes independence for Texans with disabilities through access to technology. The program offers short-term device loans, sponsorship of demonstration centers to provide hands-on equipment experiences, device reuse, as well as training and technical assistance for Texans with disabilities, their families,and qualified professionals. Last year, the booth had a staff member who was fluent in ASL.

My Service Dog, Inc. Booth: 246

My Service Dog, Inc. trains service dogs for all types of disabilities. Other services include hearing dogs and dogs who assist with diabetic alerts, seizures, and Autism.

CaptionCall Booth: 532

CaptionCall uses voice recognition technology and a transcription service to provide written captions of what callers say on an easy-to-read screen. It works like a regular telephone – speak and listen using a regular telephone handset. The captioning service is free and is paid through a fund administered by the Federal Communications Commission, Americans with Disabilities Act.

Clear Captions Booth: 411

ClearCaptions provides text of phone conversations for people with hearing loss. ClearCaptions offers communication services  for personal computers, mobile devices, and home phones.

Arts & Entertainment

CosAbility Booth: 259

Join CosAbility to ncorporate your disability when dressing up like your favorite superhero or character from a loved show. Participate in or watch Abilities Expo’s First Cosplay Competition. The contest is open to anyone on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.Visit their booth to learn more about how you can become a cosplayer and buy a T-Shirt.

Healing Fibers Foundation Booth: 449

Healing Fibers’ mission is to bring traditional fiber arts as a means of non-medical therapy and relaxation for those of all abilities. They will demonstrate:

Knitting, Crocheting, and Spindling. After completing a free beginner’s lesson, participants will receive a free kit to continue their new art at home.

VSA Texas Booths: 513, 512

VSA Texas, through their Artworks: Creative Industries program promotes visual artists through exhibition opportunities, mentoring, and workshops. Visit the Artist Market to see and purchase artwork by artists with disabilities living in Houston and surrounding areas.

Healthmate Forever Booth: 430

HealthmateForever combined TENS & PMS units are nerve stimulators for pain relief and muscle stimulators for muscle conditioning that use self-adhesive electrode pads to target specific nerve and muscle areas.

Houston Museum of Natural Science Booth: 223

The Houston Museum of Natural Science preserves and advances knowledge about natural science and enhances enjoyment of natural science. Ask if they have coupons!

Health and Cosmetic Products

U.S. Pain Foundation Booth: 210

The U.S.  Pain Foundation serves those who live with pain conditions. It was created by people with pain for people with pain. U.S. Pain exists to offer hope, present information, share stories and honor those whose lives have been affected by pain.

Click Heaters Booth: 261

Push a button to heat up fluid-filled bags that can be reused again by boiling them.

Vine Vera Booth: 607

Vine Vera was formed to offer customers the resveratrol-based products that present innovative solutions for your skin care regimen. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes. It is thought to cleanse your body of impurities and helps in preventing the appearance of aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles. They use resveratrol all their products, but also add other beneficial ingredients – essential oils, nutrients, antioxidants, natural extracts, vitamins and minerals. This company is known for their demonstrations and free samples.

Hawaiian Moon Booth: 321

Hawaiian Moon Organic Aloe Cream helps to repair and moisturize the skin. They suggest the cream makes a good gift too.


Marc Whitehead & Associates, Attorneys at Law Booth: 545

Have you been denied disability benefits? Marc Whitehead & Associates, Attorneys at Law assists in obtaining disability compensation for Veterans, claimants of long term disability insurance, and individuals who are disabled and eligible to apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

Texas Legal Services Center Booth: 432

Help is available to pay for Medicare premiums through the Medicare Savings Program and Extra Help. We can assist you or call your local Area Agency on Aging Benefits Counselor for more information. Texas Legal Services Center provides free legal service and referrals for  legal needs for low and moderate income Texans.

Southwest ADA Center Booth: 333

The Southwest ADA Center is part of the ADA National Network. The center provides free information, guidance, training and resources to the public. To get free technical assistance, call 800-949-4232.

Accessible Programs

Adaptive Sports-Houston, Pasadena, and Pearland Booth: 358

Each city has a recreation facility open to use, free of charge! Includes: wheelchair sports, aquatic programming, weight room, locker room facilities, meeting rooms, tennis courts, day programs and more.

Center for Higher Independence @ Providence Place Booth: 214

Center for Higher Independence of San Antonio works with young adults with disabilities and those who are deaf to provide work and life skills training to live more independently. Their 18-month program teaches work and independent living on a 25-acre campus with dorm and apartment living options. Funding options are DARS or Private Pay. Last year, they had booth staff who were fluent in ASL.

Insurance Companies/ Healthcare

Ask your insurance company about questions you have about what your health insurance coverage provides. If you have had problems with your insurance, ask them row to contact a consumer advocate or other person to assist you.

Amerigroup Booth: 610

UnitedHealthcare Community & State Booth: 534

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan serves over 300,000 members in commercial and state health care programs.

Register for the Abilities Expo here.

Directions to the Houston Abilities Expo.


Featured Abilities Expo Workshop: Accessible Travel with Cory Lee

At the Houston Abilities Expo on Saturday, Aug. 6, accessible travel blogger Cory Lee of Georgia will present a workshop, “Traveling Curb Free: How to Explore the World in a Wheelchair.”

Lee is Founder and CEO of curbfreewithcorylee.com . He writes about accessible travel while using a power wheelchair.

According to Lee’s website, “I want to share my accessible (and to my dismay, sometimes not so accessible) adventures with you. My life goal is to visit every continent, even Antarctica.” He hopes his blog will “inspire you to start rolling around the world.”

Sunrise or sunset over a bridge.
Cory Lee’s recent travels to Pensacola Beach, Florida led to the discovery of a company that rents out power beach wheelchairs. photo credit: The Glorious Daybreak of Gulf Breeze via photopin (license)

Lee’s presentation will offer new options for travelers with mobility needs. “Learn how to properly prepare for accessible travel, what destinations and modes of transportation are suitable for your needs, and even how to deal with those unexpected circumstances that often arise while traveling in new places.”

The accessible travel blogger has written an ebook, Air Travel for Wheelchair Users, which, according to his website, is “entirely devoted to alleviating any fears that wheelchair users may have when it comes to flying.”

Giraffe walking through the wilderness.
Cory Lee travels to an African safari this fall. photo credit: Jaunt I via photopin (license)

South Africa is his destination this October.

His workshop will be from 1:00-2:00 p.m. this Saturday in the workshop area.

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsAlong with Lee and many ability-oriented presenters and exhibitors, Sign Shares, Inc. and Capsule will be at Houston’s Abilities Expo, Aug. 5-7 at booth 625, next door to the Houston Center for Independent Living’s booth, 627.

Sign Shares is the event’s American Sign Language interpreter sponsor.

The three-day Abilities Expo is free. The event has exhibitors, workshops, and day-long events.

Register for the Houston Abilities Expo for free at this link.

The Houston Abilities Expo has more than 100 exhibitors, including businesses and organizations that support independence, awareness, and advocacy for people of all abilities.

The event will be held at the NRG Center, which was formerly Reliant Center, at Hall E.