The Southwest ADA Center serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
This region has a diverse population, with communities of varying cultural and national backgrounds, and people with disabilities dispersed throughout the five states in both urban and rural areas. Six of the 20 largest American cities are in Region 6, and the region is heavily invested in the health care, energy and tourism industries. The Southwest ADA Center’s main offices are located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas which happens to be the largest city in the region. In addition, affiliates are available in each of the four surrounding states to provide technical assistance, trainings and material dissemination.
The City of Houston created the Houston Transportation Accessibility Task Force for implementing an accessible private transportation system in the city. One of the task force’s main goals was to adapt local laws to the changing ways private transportation is provided, especially with the introduction of transportation network companies like Uber. The Southwest ADA Center (SWADA) provided extensive consultation and training to the task force, which recommended that within three years transportation providers either adopt a minimum number of wheelchair accessible vehicles or an average response time of less than 20 minutes. The task force also recommended mandatory disability etiquette training and accessible point of sale terminals in vehicles.
On June 20, 2017, SWADA and the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) will hold a two-and-a-half-day seminar on disability and transportation. The event will be held in Houston, Texas and address emerging issues brought on by the changing landscape of public transportation for persons with disabilities. Consumers, providers, researchers, advocates and other stakeholders will discuss perspectives and recommendations on issues related to demand-responsive services. The discussions will cover fixed-route and Paratransit services as well as the role and influence of transportation network companies.
Local Government Training
In December 2016, SWADA gave a three-day ADA Title II training workshop for McLennan County, Texas thatincluded sessions on Title II compliance issues affecting city government operations. Each interactive workshop brought between 40 and 60 local government and city agency and department administrators and staff who work in the County's police department, public libraries, courts, public schools, and other divisions. We received positive reviews from participants, who had been required to attend as part of a U.S. Department of Justice ADA Settlement Agreement with the County. As a result, SWADA was invited to conduct similar trainings in the future as a matter of policy for McLennan County.
Access to Healthcare
SWADA staff has conducted several in-person and web-based trainings to health providers in the region on subjects such as service animals, disability etiquette, facility access, effective communication and others. An emerging concern in healthcare is the development of accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment . To curb the disparities in healthcare delivery for people with disabilities, SWADA is developing a best practices toolkit for medical providers, as well as continuing efforts to provide trainings.
SWADA is also collaborating with the American Institutes for Research to address the employment barriers of individuals diagnosed with cancer. This project strives to improve employment outcomes for individuals after they have received a cancer diagnosis and uses strategies such as education and screening to help healthcare staff identify eligible participants for Vocational Rehabilitation.
The Southwest ADA Center and the Great Lakes ADA Center provide a monthly ADA Legal Webinar Series that covers a variety of topics including employment, website accessibility and higher education. SWADA also partners with the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America Catalyst Project to provide periodic webinars on assistive technology.