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Category: Disability Advice from the Disability Pros

This blog is about information that will help people navigate the disability community, benefit systems, and other fact related articles.

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Meetings and Events

4 different signs, the first one is for Access for Hearing Loss, the second sign is for Sign Language Interpretation, the third sign is the International Sign for Accessibility and the fouth sign is a Map Pin Point.

 

It is the policy of the State of Colorado that all public meetings and events hosted by or permitted through a State agency are physically and programmatically accessible for all. These guidelines provide organizers with a brief overview of how to plan and stage accessible, inclusive events.

People with disabilities include those with physical, sensory, intellectual, perceptual, and mental health conditions and may require special accommodations to fully participate in public events. People who are older, pregnant, ill, or fatigued may also have accessibility needs. As accommodations may include items not described in these guidelines, organizers may need to do additional research.

 

 

 

STEP 1: PLAN FOR ACCESSIBILITY

  • Designate one person as Disability Coordinator for the event.
  • Strive to include people with disabilities in logistical and program planning.
  • Budget for accommodations, such as certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, stage lifts or ramps, and signage and materials in alternative formats.

 

STEP 2: CHOOSE AN ACCESSIBLE LOCATION

    • Assess potential facilities in person and check all areas for accessibility—parking, pathways, entrances, elevators, registration areas, stages, seating, and restrooms.
    • Lifting and carrying any individual does not constitute accessibility!
    • Features of an accessible location include:
      • Stage or speaker’s platform at grade or accessible by elevator, ramp, or lift;
      • Public transportation to site within 200 yards;
      • One accessible parking space and one van accessible parking space per 25 participants;
      • sidewalks to facility at least 36” wide;
      • No routes or pathways with grass, gravel, or a rise more than ½”;
      • Passenger drop off and pick up at entrance;
      • Accessible building entrance, preferably main entrance used by everyone; and
      • Doors at least 32” wide and open to 90° angle.

       

     

    STEP 3: CREATE ACCESSIBLE ANNOUNCEMENTS

      • All notices and announcements for the event or meeting must include a contact person (name, phone number, and email) to request disability accommodations.
      • Include a paragraph detailing accessible meeting information as part of each notice, including meeting agendas, emails, and website postings.
      • Always include the physical address, as it is required by transportation providers.
      • If a map is included, indicate bus or transit stops (if applicable) and accessible parking, seating, toilets, etc.
      • If posted on a website or via email, notices must be screen reader compatible. When posting as an attachment, use a word document or “smart pdf” or include all pertinent information in the body of the email message.

     

     

    STEP 4: CREATE AN ACCESSIBLE EVENT SPACE

      • The stage or speaker’s platform must be at grade or accessible by elevator, ramp, or lift.
      • Use directional and reserved seating signage with international disability symbols.
      • Find temporary signage online by searching for “temporary accessibility signs.”
      • Cover any wires and cords that run along the floor with tape or ramps.
      • For large crowds, provide a quiet space for those who need it.
      • Provide printed programs and other materials in alternative formats, upon request.
      • Accommodations for people with mobility limitations include:
        • Accessible microphones for speakers or presenters;
        • Pathways of at least 36”;
        • Reserved/marked wheelchair and companion seating near front or interspersed in audience;
        • One empty wheelchair space plus one companion chair per 25 participants; and
        • reserved extra chairs for those who may require seating (e.g., those who cannot stand for long periods of time).
      • Accommodations for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include:
        • One or more ASL interpreters for every 100 participants or upon request;
        • Reserved seating or standing area with a direct sight line to interpreter;
        • Interpreter positioned near speaker with adequate lighting and in full view of camera; and
      • For large events, a dedicated camera may be needed to project the interpreter on screen.

       

       

      STEP 5 : ASK FOR HELP

      • If you have questions, you can reach out to your agency’s ADA Coordinator, the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, or the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

       

       

      CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION AND THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Colorado Medical Exemption Program Updates

There are now two programs in CO one for Xcel consumers which provides relief on summer pricing; and the Black Hills program which is year-round reduced rate.   

The Chronic Care Collaborative is the administrator that processes the applications and confirms usage with Xcel or Black Hills to qualify a residential customer.  Sabrina is the staff person who can assist your staff or constituents. She can be reached at 303-993-5056. Or sabrina.padilla@ccc-co.org

What follows is the updated links with the application and information for 2019.  Feel free to post this on your website or include in newsletters with your constituents, members or participants. 

Xcel customers

https://www.xcelenergy.com/billing_and_payment/understanding_your_bill/energy_assistance_options/colorado_medical_exemption_program

The direct link to the info sheet PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/Billing%20&%20Payment/Energy%20Assistance/CO-medical-exemption-program-info-sheet.pdf

Direct link to the application PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe/Corporate/CO%20Medical%20Excemption%20Program%20App.pdf

Black Hills 

https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/products-services-programs/colorado-medical-exemption-program

Chronic Care Collaborative web page

https://www.chroniccarecollaborative.org/cmep/

Update on DOJ Project Civic Access Settlement Agreement, Denver Curb Ramps and Denver Sidewalks

One year ago today, the Department of Justice reached an agreement with the City and County of Denver (“City”) under Project Civic Access (“PCA”), the Department’s initiative to ensure that cities, towns, and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). That agreement covers accessibility to numerous programs, services, activities and facilities throughout Denver. The agreement specifically addresses Law Enforcement and Effective Communication, Polling Places, Emergency Management Procedures and Policies, Physical Changes to Emergency Shelters, Web-Based Services and Programs, New Construction, Alterations and Physical Changes to Facilities, Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse. Many of the deadlines for compliance occurred today, one year after the effective date of the agreement. Click on these links to review the DOJ Press Release and for the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Also, attached is a PDF version of the Agreement with all of the one-year deadlines highlighted.

The Settlement Agreement contains one error in that it states that “On January 20, 2016, Denver and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center [“CREEC”] reached a separate agreement addressing accessible sidewalks and curb ramps in Denver.” It is correct that CREEC with the assistance of CCDC reached a class action settlement agreement with the City regarding curb ramps, but sidewalks were not addressed. Click on the link to review the Curb Ramp Settlement Agreement. Click on the link here to see CREEC’s Website. This Settlement Agreement provides for comprehensive curb ramp replacement throughout the City. CCDC is unaware of why the issue of sidewalks was excluded from the DOJ Settlement Agreement with the City because the case involving curb ramps was never intended to address sidewalks and was approved by the court as a class-action settlement on September 9, 2016 before the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Click the link here to review the Order Granting Final Approval of Settlement. The rules and regulations that apply to curb ramps are different from those that apply to sidewalks.

With respect to sidewalks, according to a recent article published in the Denverite, the City has launched a project to install sidewalks where they don’t exist and make additional sidewalk repairs. At this time, CCDC does not have additional information regarding the sidewalk project. Click on the link here to see the Denverite article regarding sidewalks.

According to the Denver Office of Disability Rights’ (“DODR”) website, “The Denver Office of Disability Rights coordinates the City and County of Denver’s efforts to ensure compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our role is to ensure that all City services and programs are accessible to people with disabilities.” Information is provided on the DODR website regarding curb ramp renovations and installation and the City’s plan for sidewalks and transportation. The  DODR is also listed as the agency to which all notifications or communications under the DOJ Settlement Agreement are to be made. Click here for the link for the Denver Office of Disability Rights. The address and other contact information for the DODR is:

Denver Office of Disability Rights
201 W Colfax, Dept 1102
Denver, CO 80202
Fax: 720-913-8470
E-mail: disabilityaccess@denvergov.org

Kevin Williams
Legal Program Director
CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program
kwilliams@ccdconline.org

CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program will not be taking any new cases until February 1, 2019

As of November 26, 2018, until February 1, 2019, the CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program will not be taking any new cases or intakes. We do not receive funding to provide referrals. Therefore, if you have a legal problem that you think we can assist with, you will need to contact another attorney until January 1, 2018. We apologize for the inconvenience. We will not be returning calls or other intake emails, including social media or by any other method.

No room for those in wheelchairs to wait at RTD bus stops

See article: 9 News Steve Staeger and 9 News Anchor Kyle Clark cover the terrible lapse in disability discrimination statutes: as Julie Reiskin describes during the interview along with others, there are bus stops that do not have sidewalks leading to the bus stop.  Cities claim they have no obligation to create a sidewalk where one does not exist. RTD makes the same claim with respect to its bus stops. It is difficult to find any language in the ADA or its implementing regulations that apply to government entities and RTD (or any other disability rights law) that require the creation or alteration of sidewalks, bus stops or bus shelters or anything new. These laws simply say that when you do build something new or make an alteration to it, it must comply with the ADA and the Standards for Accessible Design. This may be something that state law should cover. Otherwise, advocates would have to work on this issue on a city by city basis, or sometimes deal with unincorporated counties. Julie Reiskin points out that the major wheelchair repair shop NuMotion in Denver chose to locate its Denver facility in a place on Smith Road that does not provide for easy RTD access to the shop where wheelchair repairs are conducted routinely. NuMotion’s response is that bus riders should simply take the bus to the next accessible stop and cross the street and take the bus that goes in the other direction back to NuMotion. As 9 News points out, this could add an extra 20 to 30 minutes to any trip for someone who uses a wheelchair and has only RTD as a transportation option (many CCDC members and many people use wheelchairs and other mobility devices in the Denver Metropolitan area). It is ridiculous to have a bus stop that is completely unusable. CCDC members complain about this all over the Denver Metropolitan area. One other issue this story raises that is important to understand is that when cities make certain changes to the roadway, they are required to install ADA-compliant curb ramps. This is true even if there are no sidewalks. Although many try to refer to these as “curb ramps or bus stops to nowhere,” this is simply not true. It is possible that a sidewalk may be installed in the future, and it is also possible that a person in a wheelchair can use the curb ramp, cross the grass, or whatever surface exists other than a sidewalk and still get to the bus stop. There is no such thing as a “curb ramp or bus stop to nowhere.” All curb ramps provide, at least, the opportunity to get to bus stops, businesses, government buildings, etc. There are actually many bus stops that are completely inaccessible to individuals who use wheelchairs. For example, South Colorado Boulevard near Hamden Avenue on the east side has bus stops that require an individual who uses a wheelchair to go from the sidewalk down a completely inaccessible grass hill to access the bus stop. The other option would be to ride in the street on Colorado Boulevard. All of these options are very dangerous and time-consuming, but obviously, people use wheelchairs need to access bus stops just like everyone else. Julie Reiskin who is the executive director of CCDC, as part of her job and for all of her personal transportation needs, uses RTD buses and other RTD services approximately 5 to 6 times a day, often changing buses throughout the day. those of us who use wheelchairs will continue riding down the street in our wheelchairs if that is the only way we can get to a bus stop. As CCDC attorneys, Kevin Williams and Andrew Montoya, will tell you, disability rights laws are very limited in what they cover, and we certainly do not need to impose additional barriers and restrictions on bringing claims. What do we want to do to solve this problem? Do you want your friends, family and others who use wheelchairs riding in the street or on dangerous shoulders of the road to get to a bus stop?

I Voted — It was Easy!

A picture of a ballot drop box.
Kevin’s local ballot drop box.

In past years, CCDC always had a policy that people with disabilities should show up at their polls and vote in person. That way, the general public could be made aware of our presence in the important electoral process. In those days we had all sorts of issues with accessibility of polling places. Just getting to the polling place was often difficult. There were issues around accessible parking. Certainly, there were issues regarding the accessibility of the polling machines themselves, making them inaccessible to a large number of people with disabilities. As we probably all recall, many lawsuits have been filed and are still filed related to these issues.

Of course, the times, they are a-changin’. Now, it is far more common to vote by mail or drop your ballot off at a ballot box. The mail makes me nervous, so I went to my local ballot box. Of course, I took someone with me, a camera, a tape measure and other devices because I was certain that the ballot box would not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (“Standards”). Courts have ruled that compliance with the Standards equals compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don’t understand why I would have been so skeptical.

I was amazed and surprised when I approached my ballot box. First, there was a designated accessible parking space within close proximity to the box. It is clear that they marked this space off specifically for this purpose. The ballot box itself met all of the specifications for reach ranges and other accessibility requirements under the Standards.

This picture shows the accessible parking space located in front of the ballot box.
Kevin’s local ballot box and accessible parking space were in full compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  

I am not sure exactly how this system works for those who are blind or those who have limited hand function (although it does not break any secrecy or confidentiality violations if someone else drops it in the box for you), and I need to investigate that matter further, but the box itself was fantastic. It is a pleasure to be able to vote with such ease.

I apologize to those of you who have seen the ridiculous pictures of me voting that have circulated throughout many media, but here are some more.

This picture shows Kevin getting out of his van and going to the ballot box.  Kevin holding his ballot while he is next to the ballot box.

-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Why People With Disabilities Are Protesting Like Hell “My disability is not that something’s wrong with me, it’s that the world has not adapted to me,” Pittsburgh disability advocate Alisa Grishman said.

Telling it like it is about living with the disability. Stop thinking there is something wrong with us, and start thinking you are us. So do something about it! Great story in the Huffington Post.

How do we solve a problem like Case Management?

Despite a plethora of resources dedicated to case management, there is no true single case management system for those with high needs. There are fragments in some systems for some issues but they do not address holistic needs. There are case management systems that are really gatekeepers for government programs. Gatekeeping has its place but it is different than case management. Despite the many areas where case management is covered (even just in the Medicaid system) there has never been a process whereby the stakeholders and government get together to at least have dialogue, if not answer the following questions:

1) Who needs what level of care management across systems? What percent are likely permanent needs?

2) What are the specific tasks needed and how much time will this take on average?

3) What are the qualifications to do these tasks?

4) What are the quality measures to assess the performance of these tasks?

5) What is the cost to perform these tasks including maximum caseload size.

6) What are the total resources now dedicated to all case management?

7) What case management are we doing now that is not useful, not necessary, or could be done at a lower level?

8) How do we create a plan to take our current system and transform to a system that provides intensive case management where appropriate and reduces services where there is no benefit?

Case management is needed in the following situations:
*People with a serious but temporary medical condition or new illness, such as cancer for help accessing and coordinating medical and other resources.

*People with long-term disabilities who are unable to do their own case management and who have no family able to assist. This must be comprehensive and include non-medical issues even the mundane daily life activities that can overwhelm some people. Even dealing with a utility company or a landlord can require assistance for people with some disabilities.
Some individuals could learn to do more of their own management with teaching (or have a family member able to take over with some training) and others will need this high level over a lifetime.
This is not a huge number of people, but the lack of case management causes them to spend a lot of time in crisis and use emergency resources from multiple organizations. Case management of this type is labor intensive and requires a very low caseload and high level of training.

Great info on Fair Housing Rights

City & County of Denver Source of Income Protection

In a win for housing consumers, Denver City Council voted on July 30, 2018 prohibit landlords from denying applicants based on their source of income. This decision most heavily impacts housing seekers with subsidized housing vouchers and/or disability income, though it certainly benefits all potential

renters. The Council’s stance on the issue was that if a prospective renter can afford the rent, their source of income shouldn’t inform the housing provider’s decision. Opponents of the measure feel that requiring landlords to accept non-conventional sources of income like federal vouchers will force landlords to absorb uncovered damage expenses and delayed rent payments. However, to high-rent property owners, the law is unlikely to affect their business as the renters in question would likely not qualify for their units. It’s also important to note that many other jurisdictions in the country have already enacted such protections. The new protection will take effect for the City and County of Denver on January 1, 2019.

To learn more about Denver’s Source of Income protection, click here.

Your reasonable accommodation has been denied. What’s next?

 

If you have requested a reasonable accommodation and supplied your housing provider with the

appropriate documentation (typically a doctor’s note), and the accommodation was denied, there are a couple things you can do:

  • Be proactive! Ask for a meeting with the housing provider to discuss why the accommodation was denied. In some cases, a housing provider can deny an accommodation if it would pose a significant financial and administrative burden or cause them to significantly alter their business practices. If this is the case, your housing provider should work with you to come up with an alternative that will meet your
  • If there is no alternative accommodation that will meet your needs, you may request to be released from your lease at no

If your housing provider denied your accommodation based on discrimination, or you have reason to believe this is the case, here are some tips for what you should do next:

  • Document, document, document! Always keep records of requests you make, emails you receive, text messages, voicemails, recordings, etc. These will help you if you file a complaint for housing discrimination, as you will need proof of the discriminatory
  • Call the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center at 720-279-4291. DMFHC has staff members ready to help you determine if discrimination occurred, can help you self-advocate or advocate on your behalf to obtain approval for your
  • If all else fails, and it’s apparent that your housing provider has acted in a discriminatory manner, DMFHC can assist you throughout the complaint

Emotional Support Animals

 

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, there is no distinction between emotional support animals or service animals. Simply obtain a doctor’s note, or a note from another medical professional, that establishes a nexus between your disability and your need for the animal. Next, write a short letter stating that you wish to request a reasonable accommodation. Best practice is to mail the request via certified mail to your housing provider, along with a copy of the Joint Statement from HUD and the DOJ on Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act (link below). If your housing provider either ignores or denies your request, call DMFHC to discuss next steps.

If you are unsure if what you’re experiencing is disability discrimination, or just have more questions,

call DMFHC at 720-279-4291.

Click here for a copy of the Joint Statement from HUD and the DOJ on Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act.

What is these RAEs (Regional Accountable Entities)??

 

  • You should have received a letter from Medicaid recently.
  • You may see and hear new terms describing how the system of care is changing. However, your Medicaid benefits and services are not
  • You can continue to receive the same physical, mental health and long-term services and supports services you are receiving today.
  • The big change starting July 1, 2018, is one organization will be coordinating your physical and behavioral health benefits. This is intended to make it easier to get the care you need. This organization is called your Regional Accountable Entity, or RAE.
  • If the Primary Care Provider who is listed in your letter is not the one you want, you can pick a new one by calling the Medicaid enrollment department at 888-367-6557.
  • You can continue to see any physical health provider (doctors, hospitals, etc.) who accepts Medicaid, no matter which Primary Care Provider is listed on the letter you received.
  • If your behavioral health provider / therapist tells you they cannot see you because they are not part of the RAE network, please have the provider call the RAE. You should also call the RAE’s customer service line to make sure your services continue and to prevent or minimize any delays.
  • If you are told you cannot get mental health care for a long time, please call your RAE.
  • If you have a mental health crisis you can always call the crisis line at 1-844-493-8255 or text talk to 38255. Please call us also so we can get you connected with ongoing mental health care.
  • You can call your regional organization for help with:
    • Finding a doctor or specialist
    • Finding a behavioral /mental health therapist, other mental health support or a psychiatrist
    • Getting help with your care – including understanding your benefits and getting a ride to your medical appointments
    • Referring you to a long-term services and supports program if you need help with daily activities due to age or significant disability.
    • Referring you to other resources that might affect your health such as places to get help with food

RAE Contact Information and Area Map

 

Region  Regional Accountable Entity  Contact Information
1 Rocky Mountain Health Plans Email:  support@rmhpcommunity.org
2 Northeast Health Partners 9925 Federal Drive, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
Phone: 1-800-804-5040
Email: COProviderRelations@beaconhealthoptions.com
3 Colorado Access Amber Garcia
Phone: 720-744-5487
Email:  pns@coaccess.com
4 Health Colorado, Inc. 9925 Federal Drive, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
Phone: 1-800-804-5040
Email: COProviderRelations@beaconhealthoptions.com
5 Colorado Access Amber Garcia
Phone: (720) 744-5487
Email:  pns@coaccess.com
6 CO Community Health Alliance Phone: 303-256-1717 (Local) 855-627-4685 (Toll-Free)
Contact Us
7 CO Community Health Alliance Phone: 303-256-1717 (Local) 855-627-4685 (Toll-Free)
Contact Us

 


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

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