NASA Johnson Space Center joins the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities in celebrating October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. On Oct. 24, JSC will co-host the Governor’s Committee Statewide Employment Awards ceremony at the Gilruth Recreation Center.

The event will be held to honor businesses and individuals for employing disabled Texans who bring their diverse talent, skill and dedication to the workforce.

“JSC is proud of the diversity of its workforce,”said Estella Hernandez Gillette, Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management Programs. “Among that workforce, we have many dedicated members of our team who believe in what they do and make outstanding contributions to the objectives of our Agency and the nation’s space program.”

Last year, JSC accepted the Governor’s Committee Federal Employer Award for hiring people with disabilities.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA enables equal opportunity among people with disabilities to join the workforce by way of public accommodations and advanced technologies.

JSC will display an exhibit featuring NASA technology spin-offs helping people with disabilities.

Technologies developed by NASA to meet the challenges of space exploration have found numerous secondary commercial uses in products that improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Some disability-related NASA spin-offs include cochlear implants that have restored hearing for thousands of individuals, portable cooling systems for people who suffer from multiple sclerosis or children born without sweat glands, and a low-vision visor for the vision impaired that uses image-processing technology used on the International Space Station.

NASA inventor Robert Shelton will demonstrate education software developed to help students and teachers learn and teach math using a unique graphing calculator for the blind.

“NASA continuously seeks to optimize technology benefits used for the space program to achieve the mission of improving life here,” said Charlene Gilbert, Director of Technology Transfer and Commercialization. “Successful licensing and commercialization of NASA’s cutting-edge technology extends this value to the nation.”

“Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy” will be on hand for guests to touch and see. JSC will also present “STS-107 Reverence and Remembrance,”a presentation honoring the STS-107 Columbia crew. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette will be available to sign autographs.

Event Details

  • Celebrating October 2003
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • “America Works Best When All Americans Work”
  • NASA JSC Gilruth Center

Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities Statewide Employment Awards: Reception begins at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. and presentation of awards at 7:45 p.m., Oct. 24, Alamo Ballroom, Gilruth Center, Johnson Space Center.

For information on award recipients contact Pat Pound, Executive Director, TGCDP, via email at or call 512-463-5742. Dial 711 for Relay Texas. For tickets or event information contact Lillian Villarreal, Chairperson, HMCEPD, at 713-640-2160 or dial 711 for Relay Texas or email

Award Winners:

  • The Governors’ Trophy: R.A. Wade of Forth Worth
  • Large Business: Microsoft, Las Colinas Office
  • Medium Business: Garden Ridge, Austin
  • Entrepreneur with a Disability: Ed Looby, Alvin
  • Government Employer: Texas State Comptrollers’ Office
  • Martha Arbuckle Award: Houston Mayor’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities

Award Presenters:

  • Melanie Lawson, Channel 13 KTRK-TV News Anchor, Emcee and Presenter
  • Sunni Cranfill, Miss Texas 2003
  • Sandra Murgia, Team Everest Trekker
  • Lex Frieden, Senior VP of TIRR
  • Julie Payette, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Corps Member
  • Susan Garman, NASA Associate Director of Management, JSC