Since his appointment as executive director of the non-profit Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) in 2000, Dennis Borel (BBA '74, UM Council for Disability Concerns Certificate of Appreciation 2004)) has implemented a variety of innovative strategies that has resulted in not only removing legal and regulatory barriers to full participation in all aspects of the community but also shattered harmful stereotypes held by the general public. Founded in 1978, CTD is a statewide cross-disability advocacy organization controlled by people with disabilities. Despite the limitations of a small non-profit and operating in a very large state, CTD is a focal point for positive change under Dennis' direction. Several areas of progress have had national impact.
Successfully convened an innovative round table seminar on personal attendant services. Building on the relationships from the round table, the State of Texas appropriated $150 million to increase wages for community attendants.
Using finance skills learned at the UM School of Business, Dennis teamed with an economist to create an alternative analysis of a Texas bill granting a tax credit for hiring people with disabilities, one that showed that revenues resulting from the new employees more than offset the tax credits. The bill was passed and created this employer incentive to hiring people with disabilities.
Dennis and other advocates promoted a plan for state funding to follow the person moving from an institution to the community. In 2005, Money Follows the Person was codified into state law. Over 10,000 people have used this mechanism to move to the community. The Texas plan has since become a model replicated in other states.
Dennis teamed with several users of power wheelchairs to remove the chairs from the motor vehicle code. Police had been using the code to issue tickets to people driving their chairs in the streets.
To improve accessibility of public transportation, Dennis created a legislative internship for a college student. The student, a person with a mobility impairment, succeeded in advocating for new legislation and now Texans with disabilities sit at the board table when decisions are made.
Dennis was the project director of the historic Team Everest 2003 expedition of people with disabilities. Over 250 media reports covered the expedition*s remarkable achievements. ABC World News Tonight called Team Everest the most inspirational of all. The Dallas Morning News wrote about Team Everest that it was the best thing any Texas group in any field had done that year. See a full report on Team Everest 2003. Dennis is also the producer of the recently completed documentary "Shattering Stereotypes on Mt. Everest."
Dennis saved a program to help kids with disabilities live in families. The Texas Legislature cancelled funding for Family Based Alternatives, a small program that matched kids with disabilities in institutions with foster families. On Dennis' request, Governor Rick Perry restored full funding for Family Based Alternatives.
Dennis is a leader in advocacy efforts regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); developing bill language, finding bi-partisan sponsors to carry legislation to better protect Texans with disabilities. Filed amici briefs in several critical ADA cases.
Dennis is founder and project director of the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival. Now in its third year, the Film Festival uses the media of motion pictures to improve perceptions and dispel common misperceptions that many people hold about disability. It is the first known disability film festival in Texas. More information is at www.ctdfilmfest.org.
In the 2004 interim, successfully worked with policymakers to restore over $175 million in scheduled community attendant care cuts, positively impacting 100,000 Texans with disabilities
One of the lead advocates in 2005, securing $300 M in new funds to reduce community service wait lists, the first funding in State history to address waiting lists.
Initiated and passed HB2819 in 2005, a state bill improving accessibility of state websites, telecommunications and information technology.
Promoting Help America Vote Act (HAVA); new federal law that makes it easier, faster, more secure for voters with disabilities to participate in this basic right privately. Monitoring and opposing voting legislation harmful to people with disabilities.
Created a breakthrough partnership with AARP on Livable Communities, a collaboration between advocates for people with disabilities and older Americans. Livable Communities combines local community organizing and technical assistance with state-level systems change advocacy. The goal is to influence community planning to allow people with disabilities of all ages to be mobile and actively engaged in all aspects of community life.
Dennis Borel has a strong track record of non-traditional partnerships and innovative problem-solving strategies that demonstrate that people with disabilities may be involved in all of society's endeavors. He has proven that a small disability organization can accomplish great achievements.
Learn more about Dennis Borel and the CTD.