Applying for and Training Service Animals in Texas

The Capsule Group Inc and Sign Shares, Inc. team enjoyed meeting attendees from across Texas at the Abilities Expo Houston in early August 2019. Sign Shares, Inc. provided sign language interpreting to help make the expo more accessible. While there, CEO and Detective Eva Storey, TPLI met with staff from Service Dogs, Inc.

Specialized Service Animals for a Variety of Needs

Seeing eye dog guiding a person on a conveyor belt.
Most people are aware of guide dogs aiding people who are blind, but there are also service dogs for hearing, mobility, and emotional needs. photo credit: EX22218 – ON/OFF This White Dog…. via photopin (license)

The nonprofit Service Dogs out of Dripping Springs provides a variety of service animals that many people may not be aware exist, including hearing, service, courthouse, first responder facility, and PAWS juvenile offender dogs. Whatever the type of dog, Service Dogs provides free trained dogs and lifetime training for them for qualified applicants. They have been providing free assistance dogs since 1988.

Hearing dogs alert partners to sounds from their environment, such as a baby crying, smoke alarm, and other beeps and buzzes around the home or at work. Service dogs provide motor skills support, such as retrieving objects, opening, closing, and pushing things within their partner’s environment, as well assisting with movement or dressing. Courthouse dogs provide emotional support for children in tense courtroom situations.

According to the organization’s website, one of their programs, PAWS, is “the first and only juvenile offender service dog training program in the country.”

First Responder Facility Dogs work with emergency medical professionals, such as EMTs, paramedics, Emergency Room staff, and others in the hospital setting. The dogs help staff “de-escalate from the traumatic things they see every day,” such as fatalities, accidents, and emergency room happenings.

Seeing Eye Dogs in Texas

While Service Dogs, Inc. provides many types of service animals, they do not provide seeing eye dogs, which are provided by Guide Dogs of Texas. If you’re at least 17 and legally blind, you can call the organization to set up an appointment at (210) 366 4081. No matter which organization’s service animal type you need, expect to wait one to two years to secure a service animal that is trained to your specifications.

Additional Services Provided by Service Dogs, Inc.

Picture of a service dog from the Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs.
Service animals are finely trained to devote their attention to work and to have the appropriate temperament for a working animal. The amount of dogs who qualify is limited. photo credit: slambo_42 Friendly service dog via photopin (license)

Service Dogs, Inc. also provides training for professional dog trainers.

Besides assisting people, the organization provides a new start for shelter and rescue dogs, as well as dogs changing careers from other organizations.

If you wish to apply for a Hearing, Mobility or Facility dog, you must be at least 25 years old, have a hearing or mobility disability or represent a facility that provides some of the services listed above, such as at first responder or law and justice programs. The application process may take up to six months, and it may take 10 months to a year before a service animal is placed.

Contact Us to Increase Accessibility and Adaptability

Sign Shares and The Capsule Group is on your side. Contact us regarding interpreting services or advocacy needs.

The Capsule Group, inc & Sign Shares, inc will be at Abilities Expo Aug. 2-4: Join Us for a Book Signing, Advocacy, & New Launches for Fall 2019!!!

Capsule logo_bigGearing up for Abilities Expo, Houston, TX, on Aug. 2-4, 2019!!! The event will be held at the NRG Center, Hall E from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 4.

The expo is a national, annual event that celebrates the abilities of all. It includes:

Register for the event

The expo is free to attend. Register now. Indicate on the registration if you will need a sign language interpreter or CART live captioning. When you register, you can opt to receive Abilities Expo updates.

Find us at the expo

The Sign Shares and The Capsule Group Inc team will be at booth 930, which is located toward the back right of the expo hall, around the corner from 3E Love and directly across from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Author and audiobook cast book signing

This year, Sign Shares, Inc and The Capsule Group, Inc will host author Christina Goebel for a book signing for her novel, the science fiction fantasy, Birth Right: Galak’s Rising.

Birth Right Galak's Rising logo
Join Birth Right: Galak’s Rising’s audiobook cast and get your book signed at the Abilities Expo Houston on Aug. 2-4, 2019.

Members of the agency’s team read parts in Goebel’s upcoming audiobook for the novel and will be available for the book signing, including The Capsule Group’s Eva Storey and Anthony Butkovich, and Kade D.M. Murdoch, Faith L.D. Storey, and Gerald Goebel. The audiobook is in the editing phase and will be available later this year. This is a rare opportunity to have most of the audiobook cast sign Birth Right.

GoldenHeart: How to Love Humanity by Christina Goebel
Christina Goebel’s book, GoldenHeart, contains a chapter on disability with information about awareness and resources. GoldenHeart focuses on how to love yourself, others, and humanity.

Goebel will also sign copies of her self-help love manual, GoldenHeart: How to Love Humanity. This book was the start of the Twitter movement of 29,000 followers (@lovegoldenheart) promoting love and kindness and using the #GoldenHearts hashtag.

Those purchasing the novels will receive a discount price and free giveaway items not available elsewhere, including buttons for the book. You can learn more about Goebel’s books at her website. Goebel is the Advocacy Advisor for The Capsule Group.

Creating capsules with you

Besides providing access for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, The Capsule Group teams enjoy meeting people with all abilities and providing information and resources for a variety of needs so that all Texans can live a full and rewarding life. Stop by to discuss any concerns you have, and the team will assist you in finding answers during or after the event. The Capsule Group creates capsules that enable your growth and success.

Stop by the The Capsule Group Inc | Sign Shares Inc’s booth 930, receive some goodies, and enjoy a chat with our team. See the floor plan for the Abilities Expo Houston.

Receive updates

For updates, join Sign Shares’ more than 55,000 followers on Facebook.

Getting to the expo

NRG Center events utilize Gate 10 on the corner of Kirby and McNee. Type in the address: 8600 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77054 for the most accurate driving directions. Learn the location of accessible parking here. Parking will be $15 and is accepted via cash only and does not include any debit or credit card payments.

Abilities Expo Links

Facebook: @AbilitiesExpo
Twitter: @AbilitiesExpo
Imstagram: @abilities_expo
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AbilitiesExpoTV
Pinterest: @abilitiesexpo
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/abilities-expo/

Governor appoints Eva Storey to the Texas SILC

The office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the appointment of Detective Eva Storey to the Texas State Independent Living Council. Storey is the CEO and President of Sign Shares, Inc. and the Founder of The Capsule Group, Inc. Her term is until June 20, 2022.

EvaStorey_reducedsize
Detective Eva Storey

“It is an honor to be appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve within the State Independent Living Council of Texas,” Storey said. “I will respectfully advocate for individuals of disability, creating accessibility between their choice of educational, employment, medical, and legal providers, for all to engage on positive platforms of understanding and acknowledge one another through effective communication.”

The Texas State Independent Living Council, or the Texas SILC, has a mission to “ensure that all Texans with disabilities have access to quality Independent Living services by providing a framework for service delivery.” This is done via the Independent Living Movement principles of peer support, self-help, self-determination, equality, and positive systemic change.

Within that mission, the Texas SILC develops the State Plan for Independent Living in conjunction with the state’s Centers for Independent Living. The three-year plan “establishes the goals for the provision of Independent Living services in Texas.” The SILC also monitors the implementation and effectiveness of the plan and collects input from across the state via meetings, events, and town halls.

Texas SILC meetings and events are listed at the organization’s website at https://www.txsilc.org/.

Storey will provide unique input to the SILC regarding the needs of Texans with all abilities, including those who have mobility, communication access, accommodations, and other needs.

This is the second time that Storey’s advocacy has been recognized by Gov. Abbott. In 2015, Storey was the CEO of Sign Shares, Inc. when it won the state’s 2015 Lex Frieden Small Employer Employment Award

Sign Shares Holiday Party 2016

Sign Shares had its annual holiday party on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Massa’s South Coast Grill in Houston.

Joe Massa and the South Coast Grill team provided fabulous food and hospitality as consumers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and Sign Shares’ staff and interpreters gathered to have a hilarious time.

Sign Shares' Kathy Fritsche wears a green sweater with attached ornaments and tinsel.
Kathy won the ugly sweater contest with win her spin on holiday threads.

One of the evening’s highlights was the Ugly Sweater contest, which was voted on by party goers and was won by Kathy Fritsche, who wore a green, hand-decorated tinsel and ornament sweater. Other sweaters ran from silly to adorable and Mrs. Claus appeared!

Teams competed in the challenging Snowball (marshmallow) toss, where team members tried without much success at times to catch marshmallows by mouth.

Men and women in holiday sweaters pose in front of a lit Christmas tree inside a restaurant.
Sign Shares’ Executive Assistant, Anthony Butkovich, and CEO, Eva Storey, pose with Deaf community members and advocates Darla, Robert, and Nancy.

See pictures of the event on our FaceBook page . . . share more with us if you have them!

This was a great night of the Sign Shares team and community just enjoying ourselves!

Computer screen and projected image of a crackling fireplace fire.
Nothing like a portable fireplace for parties and bright holidays!

Happy Holidays 2016 style from the Sign Shares’ Team! Love & Blue Light!

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!

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.

 

 

 

Governor recognizes Sign Shares at awards

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recognized Sign Shares, Inc. | International of Houston at the 2015 Lex Frieden Awards in Fort Worth on Oct. 21 for the Small Business Award.

The Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities renamed the annual employment awards after civil right’s champion, Lex Frieden, who was “instrumental in conceiving and drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”

The Fort Worth Mayor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities hosted the sold out event.

Governor Abbott speaks about Sign Shares.
Governor Abbott sent a video to the awards ceremony.

Though the governor couldn’t make the ceremony, Governor Abbott recognized Sign Shares in a captioned video, where he said, “These awards honor those who go above and beyond what is required to ensure that all Texans have a chance to put their skills and talents to use in the workplace.”

“Today I’m proud to help recognize the award winners . . . It includes Sign Shares International of Houston, where the entire staff focuses on ensuring full inclusion and raising awareness of accessibility issues in the community,” he said.

Sign Shares staff at awards (l-r): Christina Goebel, Eva Storey, and Anthony Butkovich
Sign Shares staff at awards (l-r): Christina Goebel, Eva Storey, and Anthony Butkovich

Sign Shares’ CEO, Eva Storey, was present to accept the award. Together with Storey were Sign Shares’ Executive Assistant Anthony Butkovich and Advocacy Community Projects Manager, Christina Goebel.

“We are proud to employ people with all disabilities and wish to inspire other companies to do the same as our company is here to guide both employee and employer through the process within such a deserving community,” Storey said.

Eva Storey and Christina Goebel concentrate on their speeches before taking the stage to accept the award.
Eva Storey and Christina Goebel prepare before speaking at the Lex Frieden Awards.

At the ceremony, Goebel thanked Storey and Butkovich for making her feel wanted, needed, and accepted with her deafness, and for the access and inclusion Sign Shares provides to staff.

If you are an entity that wishes to open the doors for people with disabilities,  contact Sign Shares’ offices at info@signshares.com .