The History of T.A.P.E.D.

Deaf child in a classroom

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The History of T.A.P.E.D.

The first regional conference was held in a local hotel conference center in the fall of 1976.

As the years rolled on more and more personnel from other regions began attending the conference and a decision was made to change the regional conference to one big conference for all personnel working with students who were deaf/hard of hearing in Texas. The last regional conference was held in the North Texas Region in 1983 and the first Statewide Conference was held in 1984.

During this time, it became “obvious” to Laura Lott (Longview) and other key stakeholders that a “statewide voice was needed for educators and parents of the deaf” in Texas. An organizational meeting was held at the Callier Center in Dallas and officers were elected for a new statewide organization, T.A.P.E.D. or Texas Association of Parents and Educators for the Deaf.

The First T.A.P.E.D. Board

Laura Lott (Longview ISD) became the first President of T.A.P.E.D. and Sharon Tallet (Mesquite) became the Vice-President. Along with Dorine Cunningham and Joe Burkes (both with TEA), Arlene Stein (Dallas ISD), Jean DeSalle (who became the Treasurer of T.A.P.E.D.), and Dianne Fisher (Birdville ISD) were driving forces behind this new organization and its membership.

Founding A Statewide Conference

One of the first goals of T.A.P.E.D. was to support the notion of a Statewide Conference where stakeholders from across the state could come together. Sharon Tallet, as Vice-President, was put in charge of the very first Statewide Conference in 1984. Somewhere, during the next few years, the Statewide Conference became the T.A.P.E.D. Statewide Conference for the deaf.

Sponsoring Agencies

This conference has enjoyed the support of numerous agencies and their representatives throughout the years. The Texas Education Agency, Division of Services for the Deaf supported this conference up until 1995 when decentralized deaf services and TEA regional offices were closed. In 1988, Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) and Educational Service Centers (ESC’s) were co-sponsors of the Statewide Conference and, in the ensuing years, the Department/Division of Rehabilitative Services DARS) became an active co-sponsor of the Conference.

Since the beginning of the Statewide Conferences, each sponsoring agency has had equal representation and has contributed to bringing in outstanding state and national presenters to the Statewide Conference.

Our Stakeholders

No other conference has had the support of such a wide variety of stakeholders involved with children who are deaf and or hard of hearing in the state of Texas. These stakeholders have helped to form the planning committees and have given up their own work and personal time to put on highly recognized conferences year after year.

In 2010, 2012 and 2014, the sponsoring agencies/programs of the Statewide conference include T.A.P.E.D., ESC’s, R.D.S.P.D’s, T.S.D. and DARS. Representatives from these agencies/programs make up the Statewide Conference Planning committee.

The Statewide Conference planning committee has always been a TEAM to reckon with. Their commitment to this conference has continued throughout the years and the excellence we have in deaf education in the state of Texas is due, at least in part, to the excellence in staff development provided to parents, educators, interpreters, and other stakeholders through the Statewide Conference! We would like to thank our sponsors for their ongoing support of this outstanding Conference.

Educator and Student Scholarships

Additionally, during these conferences, outstanding leaders working with students who are deaf/hard of hearing are recognized. More importantly, scholarships are given to deserving students who are deaf/hard of hearing from across the state. In recent years, scholarships have been given to Interpreters and Teachers pursuing certificates and/or degrees in the fields of Interpreting and Deaf education.


Want to donate to T.A.P.E.D scholarships or become a SWCED sponsor? Great! We truly appreciate your contributions. Through donations, we are able to provide scholarships to students and educators, as well as maintain a quality biennial statewide conference.

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