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
Pinterest: @abilitiesexpo

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 . 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.

Sign Shares will be at Houston Abilities Expo this August

Sign Shares boat logo with blue handsCapsule Group logo with black background and white word Capsule and confetti streaming from word.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.

According to their website, the three-day Abilities Expo is the nation’s leading disability event. Admission is free. The event has exhibitors, workshops, and day-long events.

The Houston Abilities Expo has 133 exhibitors listed, 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.

Here is the time schedule:

  • Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Below are links for more event information:

Register to attend (free)

Map and list of exhibitors

List of Events, including Service Animal demonstrations

Directions, Parking, and Transportation Information

Community Ambassadors

Closer to the date of the event, a list of exhibitors for screen readers will be provided. Hands raised in blue light.

Register now to attend, and indicate any accommodations needs, including the need for sign language interpreters or CART captioned workshops.