As many of us know, Memorial Day (formally known as “Decoration Day”) exists for the purpose of remembering, i.e., memorializing, those brave human beings who have died and fallen in combat to protect true and real liberties of this Great Nation! To all of them, so many of whom returned to our country as people with disabilities, on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, many veterans with disabilities are housed (basically warehoused) in veterans’ homes and are dying from the current pandemic at rates far higher than the general population of humans who have the ability to shelter at home. To those great veterans with disabilities and others warehoused in these institutions without any reprieve, on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, the current pandemic affects everyone in ways that none of us could ever imagine. However, people with disabilities who remain the most vulnerable population across the globe and yet who fight for justice with incredible courage and tenacity, on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, ADAPT, certainly one of the greatest and most powerful leaders in the disability rights community dating back to 1983 in Colorado with its roots dating back to 1973, when 19 young people with disabilities incarcerated in nursing homes for most of their lives, said no more and moved into their own apartments. Once in the community with other human beings, they realized there were many barriers — inaccessible public transportation, restaurants, stores, and so many other places. In discussing ADAPT, we cannot forget Wade Blank, a champion of social justice and social change who worked at Heritage House, the place of incarceration where our 19 friends and colleagues with disabilities (many who are no longer with us) were trapped against their will, who helped them in their insistence that they be in their homes and not nursing homes. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, so many people who are currently warehoused in nursing homes across this country and those who work in those nursing homes are dying at a rate far higher than the rest of us were able to shelter in our own homes as a result this pandemic and the fact that no assistance appears to be being provided. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, ADAPT went on to challenge Denver’s Regional Transportation District (“RTD”), the largest “public” bus system now including light rail and commuter rail services in the Denver metropolitan area. Of course, RTD did not think the “public” included people with disabilities. After countless meetings and negotiations between ADAPT members with disabilities and RTD that went nowhere the now-famous “Gang of 19” staged a two-day protest blocking one of the busiest intersections in downtown Denver of Colfax and Broadway, people with disabilities blocked buses with their bodies, getting out of their wheelchairs and lying in the street. This action eventually led to RTD making all of its buses have wheelchair lifts. Denver was the first city in the United States to do so as a direct result of this protest. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, ADAPT and so many people with disabilities, in the great tradition of protest movements for civil rights of Black people, women, the LGTB community and so many other human beings who sought equal treatment and civil rights under the law, those people with disabilities crawled up the United States Capitol steps, many abandoning their wheelchairs behind them in order to demonstrate the struggle of inaccessibility and unequal treatment to get Congress and President George H.W. Bush to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (“CCDC”) was formed by people with disabilities in 1990 bring the promises of the ADA to and ensure they were enforced in Colorado. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, CCDC, and solidarity with so many like-minded disability rights advocates and activists across the country and worldwide, with its mission to ensure social justice for people with disabilities of all kinds, has made major changes on the impact of the lives of people with disabilities in Colorado and throughout the nation. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, attorneys across the country and those who work for CCDC’s Civil Rights Legal Program have spent decades of our lives devoted to the simple principle that people with disabilities are people entitled to the same liberty and justice enjoyed by all human beings. It does not always take a village to solve a problem even though that is a good approach; often, unfortunately, it takes a lawsuit! On behalf of CCDC and all of the hundreds and maybe thousands of attorneys who understand that simple principle, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, CCDC in solidarity with disability rights groups throughout the country, are steering people with disabilities and those in power in the right direction, recognizing the humanity and quality of all people to maintain life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the face of this pandemic that is killing us for reasons that make no sense. On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, there are people in this country who seek to take advantage of those accommodations that are necessary in order to provide equality of opportunity for people with disabilities, but we reject and have exposed and stopped your inhumane attempts to do so. The last thing anybody claims they ever want to be is a person with a disability, but so many non-disabled people are willing to try to take advantage of the necessary accommodations people with disabilities need for equality. On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, there people today in this country who claim to have a disability as the reason for not wearing a mask to protect the health and safety of all of us, those with disabilities and those without. There may be legitimate disability-related reasons for not wearing a mask, but to those of you who are doing so illegitimately, we shame you. What you’re doing is despicable and will not be tolerated. On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, “The economic shutdown related to COVID-19 has complicated the lives of Colorado people with disabilities, who find their routines upset, their jobs at risk and their quest for affordable, accessible housing more difficult.” On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
As many of us know, on this Memorial Day, often-called the unofficial “First Day of Summer,” “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around!”[Lyrics from “Life During Wartime.”© David Byrne, 1979. Talking Heads, Fear of Music album and featured in the 1984 film Stop Making Sense] Our friends, our loved ones and our colleagues are dying in large numbers. The death toll in the United States will most likely reach 100,000 as of the end of this hallowed Memorial Day! On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!
— Kevin W. Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. Permission to share and distribute widely because we need to remember and continue in the proud tradition of disability rights activists all over the world and fix this calamity as soon as possible and save ourselves! We SHALL overcome!
THE FOLLOWING PROVIDES AND EXPLANATION OF THE LEGAL BACKGROUND REGARDING DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION THAT MAY OCCUR BY PLASMA CENTERS, INCLUDING CSL PLASMA:
According to their website, CSL Plasma states the following with respect to “Who Can Donate?”
Anyone in good health, 18 or older, who weighs at least 110 lbs, have had no tattoos or piercings within the last 12 months, meets our eligibility and screening requirements, has valid identification and a permanent address is eligible to donate plasma.
To maintain high health standards, a member of our medical staff gives every potential donor a screening examination, and gathers medical history information. This is for the donor’s safety as well as the quality of the product that will be made from plasma, and we assure the utmost respect to donor privacy.
Both the requirements regarding “good health” and the required “screening examination” may very well discriminate against people with disabilities, even though they may have been put in place with the best of intentions. These phrases often serve as buzzwords for disability discrimination. For example, what does “good health” mean and who gets to decide? Also, as explained below, “screening examinations” may screen out letting people with disabilities donate plasma even when an individual’s disability has nothing to do with the ability to provide a plasma donation safely.
Plasma centers like CSL Plasma are places of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”) and are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of disability. As such, CSL Plasma cannot refuse to allow you (if you are an individual with the disability) to donate and receive payment for doing so on the basis of disability except under very limited circumstances. If you have already contacted a CSL Plasma center in the past and have been denied the ability to donate plasma based solely on the basis of your disability or if you call now to try to make a donation, here are some key things to remember:
No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who ow/ns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.
Both Title III of the ADA and the CADA apply to the owners of public accommodations and/or businesses that lease a place of public accommodation or operate a place of public accommodation, although the CADA refers to “any person” who discriminates whereas the ADA only applies to entities that discriminate, not persons. You should also be aware that Title III of the ADA prohibits an entity from engaging in contractual, licensing or other arrangements that result in discrimination on the basis of disability as well. The CADA is intended to apply all of the same standards and defenses as the ADA. As a result, it is possible, for example, that the CADA incorporates standards pertaining to contractual licensing and other arrangements that result in discrimination. Title III of the ADA prohibits many forms of discrimination some of which are very direct and others are much more subtle.
And now for some minutia or “getting in the weeds” of ADA Title III and CADA claims:
An individual or class of individuals on the basis of disability cannot be denied the equal opportunity to participate in plasma donation; nor can an individual or entity like CSL Plasma use “standards or criteria or methods of administration” that have the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability or perpetuate the discrimination of others (for example, a standard that prohibited all people who are blind or deaf or who have any other form of disability that is not specifically related to the individual’s ability to donate plasma). Title III also prohibits imposing “application of eligibility criteria ” that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with the disability or any class of individual with disabilities from participating in plasma donation and prohibits failing to “make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures” when such modifications are necessary to afford an individual with disabilities and equal opportunity to participate in plasma donation or due to a failure to “provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services” (like sign language interpreters if necessary for effective indication) in order to participate in plasma donation. Modifications of policies, practices and procedures under Title III of the ADA may also include requiring that a plasma center not discriminate against an individual with the disability who uses a service animal. Under the CADA, an individual with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a service animal and even a trainer of a or an individual with the disability accompanied by an animal that is being trained to be a service animal is permitted to have the service animal in or service animal in training in any place of public accommodation.
In addition, plasma centers are required to be fully accessible to people with disabilities if they are newly constructed facilities under the ADA if they have been altered or renovated in a significant way, and they must remove architectural and communication barriers when doing so is readily achievable which means without difficulty or expense (like installing accessible parking spaces and ensuring that equipment and rooms are made accessible when doing so is not complicated or expensive). The CADA also addresses design and construction issues with respect to the requirements that it be construed to apply the same standards and defenses available under the ADA reference above and also in its remedial provisions.
For people with mobility disabilities, there is specific guidance issued jointly by the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“Joint Guidance”). This guidance addresses requirements related to the accessibility of medical equipment and also the need to accommodate individuals with such disabilities. See “Americans with Disabilities Act: Access To Ethical Care for Individuals With Mobility Disabilities.” Here are just some examples that relate directly to this guidance as well as prohibitions set forth in the policies of plasma clinics regarding transferring individuals with mobility disabilities:
Staff should be protected from injury, but that doesn’t justify refusing to provide equal medical services to individuals with disabilities. The medical provider can protect his or her staff from injury by providing accessible equipment, such as an adjustable exam table and/or a ceiling or floor based patient lift, and training on proper patient handling techniques as necessary to provide equal medical services to a patient with a disability. (See Part 4 [of the document] for more information on this equipment.)
To provide medical services in an accessible manner, the medical provider and staff will likely need to receive training. This training will need to address how to operate the accessible equipment, how to assist with transfers and positioning of individuals with disabilities, and how not to discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Local or national disability organizations may be able to provide training for your staff.
Therefore, it might very well be considered discrimination on the basis of disability if a plasma clinic has a policy or standard that requires an individual who uses a wheelchair who wishes to donate plasma to be able to transfer herself to a device such as an examination table or chair used for plasma donation independently and without any assistance from the staff working at the plasma center.
Furthermore, it is very important that plasma centers do not discriminate on the basis of myths, fears, and stereotypes associated with disabilities as often occurs with respect to people with cognitive or psychiatric disabilities. Therefore, if a plasma center prevented someone during its screening process from donating plasma because of fears or stereotypes related to the individual due to a condition that causes muscle spasms, seizures or psychiatric disorders, all of these actions may constitute discrimination under Title III. Likewise, if a plasma center refused to allow someone to be a plasma donor because the individual had a psychiatric disability based on a fear that the individual might attempt to donate plasma without having taken his or her medications might very well constitute discrimination on the basis of disability.
There are exceptions to all of the forms of discrimination that are prohibited under Title III of the ADA set forth above, but they are very limited. For example, if allowing the individual to donate plasma would cause an “undue burden to the plasma center, or if the individual somehow constituted a direct threat to the health or safety of others even if the behavior that caused that direct threat was related to disability and could not be accommodated reasonably, the plasma center may refuse to allow the individual to donate plasma. Even when a plasma center falls under the ADA provisions addressing newly designed and constructed facilities, there might be an exception for full and complete accessibility if it is structurally impracticable to make the facility accessible and in compliance with the requirements for the Standards for Accessible Design. There may be other disability-related reasons why an individual might not be able to donate plasma (for example, if an individual had some blood-related disease that would interfere with providing plasma, this might constitute an exception). Nevertheless, as said, the exceptions are very limited. As an example of the limitations on the exceptions, making a determination as to whether allowing an individual with a disability to donate plasma constitutes an undue burden for the facility at issue, many considerations must be made like determining resources and capabilities of any parent company involved with the facility in question. Another example relates to the structural impracticability defense related to designing instruction. A public accommodation like a plasma center would have to prove that the conditions under which the facility was built made it almost nearly impossible to build it in for compliance with the ADA if it falls under the newly designed and constructed facilities provisions.
Therefore, as set forth in Part 1 of this Alert, please let us know if you have experienced discrimination on the basis of your disability by CSL Plasma, or, as set forth in Part 2 of this Alert if you wish to contact CSL Plasma and donate plasma, and you experience discrimination on the basis of disability as a result, please do contact Kara Gillon at the email address or telephone number listed in Part 1 of this Alert.
 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(f) (defines “public accommodation” to include the office of a healthcare provider or other service establishment); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-601(1)(defines “place of public accommodation” to mean a place of business engaged in sales to the public and any place offering services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to the public, including but not limited to any business offering sales to the public or public facility of any kind whether indoor or outdoor); Levorsen v. Octapharma Plasma, Inc., 828 F.3d 1227, 1234 (10th Cir. 2016) (holding that a similar plasma donation center is a public accommodation under the ADA).
 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-601(2)(a) (referencing the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability by any “person” defined elsewhere in the statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-301(5)(a), as including limited liability companies, partnerships, associations, corporations and other entities similar to those identified in Title III of the ADA).
 42 U.S.C. § 12182(1)(A)(i)-(iii).
 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-802(4); Colo. Code Regs. § 708-1:60.
 Id. §§ (b)(1)(A)(1) & (b)(1)(D).
 Id. §§ (b)(2)(A)(i)-(iii).
 28 C.F.R. § 36 302(c)(1).
 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 24-34-803(1)(a) & (2)(a) & 24-34-804(1). Both the ADA and the CADA place some limitations on the use of a service animal (and/or under the CADA a service animal in training). 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.302(c)(2), (4), (5) (the animal must be in the control of its handler, the animal must be housebroken and public accommodations are not responsible for the care or supervision of service animals); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-803(4)(requiring that a service animal or a service animal in training must be under the custody or control of the individual wh the disability or the trainer).
 42 U.S.C. §§ 12183 (applicable to new construction and alterations) & 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv) (applicable to the requirement of existing facilities — those designed and constructed before the enactment of the ADA — to remove structural and communication barriers when doing so is readily achievable).
 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 24-34-802(b)-(c).
 A similar analysis would be applied to a blood donation center or plasma donation center.
 The guidance provides direct contact information for the ADA Website and the US Department of Justice as well.
 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, app. C at 706 (a person who is not allowed into a public accommodation because of the myths, fears, and stereotypes associated with disabilities would be protected under the ADA as would an individual who was denied services because the public accommodation feared a psychological condition constituting a disability might result in problems if the individual was not medicated properly).
CCDC MEMBERS, IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY ATTEMPTED TO DONATE PLASMA TO CSL PLASMA (See all locations set forth in Part 1 of this Alert):
What could be better than that? A trifecta. CCDC members and friends, would you like to earn up to 400 extra dollars per month on an ongoing basis and provide an enormously needed service to help others in need? Why not donate plasma? Currently, plasma centers are designated as a “Critical Business” that will remain open for purposes of making donations under the current Colorado Order and PHO (see Part 1 of this Alert for links to these orders) as well as under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency because their services are needed desperately by those who need plasma. In addition, CSL Plasma advertises that it is taking extreme precautions to follow all COVID-19 protocols in order to ensure the safety of those of you who want to help others who desperately need donated plasma. CCDC certainly wants to ensure that all of its members and our families, friends and colleagues stay safe and healthy. Finally, CCDC wants to make sure that CSL Plasma is not discriminating against people with disabilities and needs your help to investigate whether this is happening.
We all know everyone is struggling both with worries about their own physical health and the physical health of their friends and family, and we all are dealing with economic circumstances that also provide us all with a great amount of stress. For many, economic problems are enormous. On top of the physical health and economic concerns that weigh heavily upon all of us, our current circumstances are affecting many people’s mental health as well.
One way we can all benefit others as well as earn some income during these stressful economic times is to donate blood and plasma. Because people are staying at home, they are much less likely inclined to provide needed donations of blood and plasma to those centers that will make it available for life-giving and life-sustaining procedures for so many people throughout our state.
Several recent news reports provide some examples regarding medical needs in Colorado, and plasma donations are needed now more than ever.
CCDC is investigating CSL Plasma, because there is reason to believe that this entity is discriminating against people with disabilities and preventing them from donating plasma as a result. Even though people with disabilities want to do their part and help others as well as earn needed income in the process, they might be turned away from doing so for reasons resulting from disability discrimination that could very well violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”) and possibly other disability rights laws.
You can earn up to $400 for donations each month and help save other people’s lives in the process. Even though you might have already received or soon will be receiving a tax refund and/or a stimulus check, for many of CCDC members with disabilities, this additional money can really help especially those on lower incomes and those who are currently not working because of the pandemic. By doing so, you can provide a potentially life-saving service for so many people who are either hospitalized or have conditions requiring them to need plasma transfusions for reasons that may or may not be related to the current pandemic. This needed service for others can help CCDC members with disabilities with their needed extra income.
So, by donating plasma, you can serve three very meaningful purposes: (1) You can help yourself make it through these difficult economic times; (2) you can help others who so desperately need plasma to survive; and (3) you can help CCDC with its investigation regarding whether this plasma center is discriminating on the basis of disability. This is an extremely rare win-win-WIN situation!
So many CCDC members (many of home live on lower and fixed incomes) who have always stepped up to help others in need in the past have asked us at CCDC, “What else can I do to help fellow Coloradans during this horrible and unexpected crisis?” This is one more critical time and one more urgently needed way to help. This very well may be the most critical time we have ever seen with respect to all of us needing to help each other. Clearly, donating needed plasma will help others stay alive as we all work to help each other get through the pandemic together.
Furthermore, CCDC has become aware and is very concerned that the entity that runs these plasma centers may be discriminating against people with disabilities who want to serve others in helping to donate plasma. We have reason to believe that these plasma centers may be prohibiting many people with disabilities, solely on the basis of disability, from donating plasma.
As set forth in Part 1 sent earlier, please let us know immediately (1) if you have tried to donate plasma at one of the Colorado centers listed in Part 1 And available on the CSL Plasma website for Colorado locations, and, in doing so, if you have been denied the ability to donate plasma for a disability-related reason (the appropriate contact information and what information you should provide is all set forth in Part 1); or (2) if you would be willing to try to donate plasma to assist others and earn some income during these trying times. You can find the plasma center near you in the state of Colorado and contact the facility of your choice if you would like to donate plasma. Their website provides other useful information you will need as well.
 Please keep in mind not every payment will be $400.00. That is the maximum amount an individual might receive for donating plasma in a given period of time. According to the CSL Plasma Frequently Asked Questions page:
You can get paid up to $400 each month by donating life-saving plasma. This is applicable for eligible, qualified new donors. Fees vary by location. In addition, you can also receive points (called iGive) for your donations. iGive points can be redeemed for extra cash deposited (loaded) right to your reloadable prepaid card. Check with your preferred CSL Plasma donation center to see if they are participating in any other special promotions.” In addition, The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations state that the maximum frequency you can donate plasma is once in a two-day period – and, no more than twice in a seven-day period.
 See CSL Plasma Corona Virus page and Safe Passage letter; as stated in Part 1 of this Alert, CSL Plasma centers also fall under the “Critical Business” exception to the Stay at Home Order executed by the Colorado Governor and as described by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in its implementation of the Order § III(C) which excludes businesses engaging in healthcare operations and provides a non-exhaustive list, including businesses like blood banks and other healthcare operations like plasma donation centers.
 See, e.g., “Denver man with rare disease is asking people to donate blood during the stay-at-home order,” Denver Post, https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/coronavirus/denver-man-with-rare-disease-is-asking-people-to-donate-blood-during-the-stay-at-home-order (last visited Apr. 7, 2020); “Local family seeks plasma donor for life-saving COVID-19 treatment,” Fox31 Denver, https://kdvr.com/news/coronavirus/local-family-seeks-plasma-donor-for-life-saving-covid-19-treatment/ (last visited Apr. 7, 2020); “Colorado hospital calling for donors to help with experimental, ‘promising’ coronavirus treatment: Convalescent plasma treatment is being used at Children’s Hospital Colorado,” ABC News, https://abcnews.go.com/Health/colorado-hospital-calling-donors-experimental-promising-coronavirus-treatment/story?id=69951910 (last visited Apr. 7, 2020).
This three-part Alert will be followed by Part 3, the final installment of the Alert pertaining to the applicable law and how disability discrimination might occur related to those who wish to donate plasma. Part 1 sent earlier explains who to contact and what information you should provide if you feel you have experienced disability discrimination as a result of contacting CSL Plasma.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY AND ATTEMPTING TO DONATE PLASMA TO A CSL PLASMA CENTER IN COLORADO BECAUSE OF YOUR DISABILITY?
For example, were you denied the opportunity to donate plasma and receive payment for doing so for a disability-related reason? If so, our Civil Rights Legal Program needs to hear from you as soon as possible. Please contact Kara Gillon at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 660-8254. Email is best as the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (“CCDC”) staff are all following the current EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020 024, AMENDING AND EXTENDING EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020 017 ORDERING COLORADANS TO STAY AT HOME DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF COVID-19 (“Order”), entered April 6, 2020, as well as the UPDATED PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER 20-24 IMPLEMENTING STAY AT HOME REQUIREMENTS (“PHO”), dated March 26, 2020, and issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Most of us are working at home unless otherwise necessary. CCDC is permitted under these orders to have staff in the office, but we are working at home unless otherwise necessary.
WHAT DO WE NEED FROM YOU? We need to know as much precise information as possible which may include the following: (1) when you made the contact with any of the CSL Plasma Centers located in Colorado (the previous link provides all addresses and other necessary contact information, also listed below); (2) all reasons why you believe you were discriminated against on the basis of your disability; (3) who you talked to and when and what was said.
Leave a good time to contact you (again preferably by email) and your name, telephone number, email address and whether you are a CCDC member already.
If you would like to become a CCDC member, membership is free and can be extended to any individual who believes in social justice for people with all types of disabilities. You can become a member easily by logging on to the CCDC Membership Website Page. By becoming a member, you may elect to receive important information regarding all activities of CCDC which are especially important in light of the current pandemic.
This is Part 1 of three parts to be included in this Alert.
Part 2 of this Alert will provide you with information regarding whether you would be interested in being a plasma donor which accomplishes three important purposes: (1) Assisting individuals who are in desperate need of plasma donations received those donations during this time of crisis; (2) helping you obtain some additional needed financial resources during this economic crisis; and (3) assisting CCDC with its investigation of this issue and the possibility of disability discrimination.
Part 3 of this Alert will provide you with the legal background for the types of disability discrimination individuals might be experiencing as a result of attempting to donate plasma at CSL Plasma centers.
WE ARE CONDUCTING AN INVESTIGATION AND NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Colorado CSL Plasma locations:
CCDC’s Civil Rights Legal Program has numerous and growing concerns regarding discrimination against people with disabilities as a direct result of decision-making by both private and public entities occurring during the pandemic. When a crisis hits, as we all know (or at least our community is now finding out) people with disabilities and our civil rights get kicked to the curb!
These bad actors jump at every opportunity to Take advantage of what they call our “special rights,” but now that dogged discrimination is multiplied exponentially in order to violate our rights every time the word “emergency” gets used. These evildoers and lawbreakers will do everything in their power to ignore us and act as though somehow emergencies affect the lives of everyone else except people with disabilities. We know just the opposite is true.
Although Governor Polis’ administration has continued working with CCDC in a collaborative fashion and actively seeks input from CCDC regarding the needs of the disability community (something sorely lacking with respect to our needs and rights at other levels of government), the Civil Rights Legal Program stands ready to address to the best of our ability any form of discrimination against any individual or group on the basis of disability as a result of decision-making by governmental entities or private entities (such as the police, transportation providers, government entities failing to provide effective communication, doctors’ offices treating you differently based on disability, etc.) that occur related to the pandemic. All of us at CCDC, who have been working tirelessly to do our best to help our community in this time of crisis see COVID-19: RESOURCES, LINKS, AND INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WITH AND WITHOUT DISABILITIES, recognize that almost everyone has been hit very hard by current circumstances, but that does not permit discrimination against people with disabilities to be allowed to go unchecked. We will not do so! Now, more than ever, our civil rights must and will be enforced!
As we all know, we always face the same problems as everyone else plus all of the problems related to our disabilities, most of which would be alleviated if people would simply do what they are supposed to under civil rights laws, but during this unprecedented and unimaginable crisis, we are really feeling the devastation far more so than our nondisabled counterparts. So many of us are just trying to figure out how to get out of bed in the morning given that we or maybe our attendants, our families, our friends, and our colleagues are falling victim to this foe that does not discriminate. Nevertheless, we are the most resilient, most resourceful and most likely to figure out the path to victory because that is what we have to do every day of our lives. For all of those reasons, we are here to help the best of our ability and in close connection with our allies in the field and other civil rights lawyers who are working harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives to make sure everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – receives the fair and equal treatment we and those who came before us have fought so hard for all of our lives.
Please go to our Intake Form for information about the types of cases we take. You can also contact our Legal Program Assistant, Kara Gillon, at email@example.com or (303) 660-8254 if you feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of disability based on the above types of circumstances or any other disability-rights violation. Please remember that we only take cases involving civil rights discrimination on the basis of disability. Other problems should be handled by CCDC’s other non-attorney advocates who can be found on our website, ccdonline.org.
Obviously, we cannot guarantee that we can help in every circumstance; nor can we guarantee a perfectly successful outcome, but we have been here for you for 22 (almost 23) years doing all that we can with our small but, in my humble opinion, mighty staff taking on hundreds and hundreds of cases usually with good outcomes for the disability community in most circumstances (not always, but most). This is true even in the face of many more and more opponents who seem more defiant than ever to refuse to treat people with disabilities with humanity and equality as required on the law.
Those who would deny us our civil rights were growing in number and in willful disobedience of the law before, but this behavior is only been enhanced by the current pandemic. They never stop to think that we are the one minority group that they could join and, in the face of the current pandemic, just might join at any given moment. They need us not only to fight for ourselves but for them as well. Everyone is really just one sneeze away from the potential of needing those ventilators we keep hearing about and reading about in the news and perhaps requiring home healthcare for the rest of our lives. Oddly, many of us have lived under the circumstances for most of our lives. We truly are all in this together! But even that doesn’t stop them from discriminating and denying us equal opportunity under the law.
We must show those who will try to take advantage of a crisis to discriminate against us on the basis of our disabilities that we will not permit it! Although disability rights laws are not boundless (they do have their limitations), we are seeing firsthand and hearing about so many clear-cut violations of the law (and so many violations committed in the name of “emergencies” that we must remind those who will find any excuse to take advantage of us or the pandemic, our civil rights matter more now than ever!.
-- Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director and a member of the disability community for 33 -- almost 34 -- years and counting).
55 years ago on March 7, 1965, an estimated 525 to 600 champions of civil rights began the first of several nonviolent marches and risked their lives and limbs literally and attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to make this country a more perfect nation. So many people crossed the bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama for the simple purpose of attempting to register Black Americans to vote. Their mission and their purpose were to force this country to live up to its many principles, statements of morality, creeds and founding documents. Representative John Lewis (D. Ga.), a member and later
one of the youngest leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the leaders of the marches.
I think it is important to use this anniversary to make a distinction between the words and writings of those who created the country in which we now live and the events that occurred on that day. The Declaration of Independence, First Continental Congress, July 4, 1776, the following paragraph was included:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
The author of this blog, a somewhat increasingly-jaded attorney who writes to you now about this event that became known as “Bloody Sunday,” has read the words in the Declaration of Independence as well as the other founding documents of our country many times and has become growing late disconcerted by the contradiction between their meaning and reality. I have also spent a great deal of time studying the law of civil rights and about the civil rights movements in this country in particular and other countries as well. But all I am is a simple civil rights lawyer for people with disabilities who works for a nonprofit organization in Denver, Colorado. So why am I writing about this?
Because I care about making this country in which we live a more perfect union so that all human beings regardless of race, religion, gender, disability or ability, and all other human beings obtain and receive the same respect and are entitled to belong just as much as any other human being. There is no superiority of any one of these groups, and there is no meaningful type of “nationalism” which is just another word for shutting out other human beings that are different. The civil rights movement that led to my ability to be able to practice law for people with disabilities, although created by my brothers and sisters with disabilities who came before me, was also built on the broken skull of John Lewis. When I view these photos, tears wells up in my eyes no matter how jaded the process of practicing disability rights law and reading American history has made me become. I do remember reading one of my favorite books, Parting the Waters, by Taylor Branch and calling my good friend, colleague and mentor, Amy Robertson, and saying something like, “I guess disability civil rights lawyers have one advantage over those who represented the great civil rights leaders of the South and others throughout our country and around the world. At least no one is bombing our houses.” Don’t get me wrong, we certainly get our share of slurs throughout the wonders of social media, newspapers and other outlets of incivility. Usually, it comes from the other side (meaning those who oppose our equality, belonging and humanity), often it comes from people who are simply ignorant about the issues, but it sometimes even comes from within our own community. I could certainly cite to many words written and spoken by the “Founding Fathers” of our country that lead me to reach the inevitable conclusion that the entire country was built on a series of lies. First of all, I, like many of you, was taught that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. I find it extremely difficult to understand how an individual came to discover a land that was already inhabited by a large number of people who, as far as most of us now, were perfectly content with their way of life. They were definitely human beings, and they were here first, living and existing in a way that worked for them until those who came before and after Columbus destroyed their culture, most of their population (through the spread of disease and outright murder) and all of their way of life because our ancestors* thought we knew what was best for the natives of this country now known as the United States of America.
The second major lie in existence when the words quoted above were drafted (often called “Original sin”) committed by those who “founded” this country was the bringing of in innumerable number of human beings from Africa, a continent almost as far away as it could be, to come in shackles on boats and conditions almost certain to cause most of them to die to this country for the sole purpose of being the property and working for our ancestors. Now, as a result of the great works of people like John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, and so many others, the same year that the dogs took bites out of those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the same people who were gassed, knocked down by fire hoses, beaten with billy clubs shot, and arrested, our federal government under President Lyndon B. Johnson, sent troops to assist those who are not permitted to vote to be able to do so and passed The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (The Civil Rights Act of 1964 somehow managed to exclude this most important alleged inalienable right of all Americans who were in the words of the First Congressional Congress “created equal” and endowed with exactly the same rights; also interesting is the fact that it took until 1920 for women to have the right to vote; I guess the “Founding Fathers” really meant it when they said “all men are created equal”).
When reviewing that paragraph from the Declaration of Independence, it is difficult to say at what point in history (according to our “Founding Fathers, ” human beings in our society should determine when the government is destructive of the ends set forth in that document, when we as a society have stopped securing the Safety and happiness of our people (coming Social Security benefits and the possibility of attaining healthcare if you have a pre-existing condition, denying any form of long-term care and lying about it in front of TV cameras while having the United States Justice Department argue the exact opposite in federal court), whether the actions taken by our current government are light and transient causes (it is hard to imagine how 400 years of slavery coupled with the continued income inequality based on things like race or disability, The routine murdering of people of color by law enforcement with absolute immunity, the ruining of an entire society and culture leaving only a few to rise up, resisting compliance with the law or changes in the law that will allow the equality that apparently all human beings in this country are supposed to have — “the repeated tyrannies and usurpations”), whether these and other evils have risen to the level of being so insufferable as to require the change or abolishment of government in comparison to the reasons taken by the “Founding Fathers.” And who in the world (literally) did they think they were kidding when they said, “To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world[?]”
Nevertheless, as President Barack Obama reminded us during the 50th anniversary of this same series of marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, change has occurred. It has occurred because we have made it occur. It is just that so much more needs to be done. Lawyers are limited by what laws allow us to do. Legislators are motivated by monetary interests and paid lobbyists against whom we have severe inequality.
I am extremely indebted to and thankful for my colleagues, friends and those who came before me whom I never met, all who have disabilities and their colleagues, who made it possible for me to assist in enforcing the civil rights of human beings — people with disabilities. It certainly seems a shame 30 years after the law was written that our society has not come into compliance, and that entities resist with such vigor, that people who would rather die than be disabled and yet they take advantage of those simple modifications that people with disabilities need enable to live equally with nondisabled people (like the example of the police car that parked in the access aisle next to my van at our office), but I can only imagine what those who survived Bloody Sunday must feel regarding the treatment of a population of people who were brought to this country four hundred years ago to do the work and be the property of white people who now hate and despise this population in such a way as that they are incarcerated them in enormously greater proportions than whites, the income inequities between Blacks and whites are extraordinary, and no one can really say with a straight face that equal treatment has been achieved throughout the country.
So in an attempt to return the bright side. I still continue to believe that we are trying to build a “more perfect union.” At least enough of us are, and there is no doubt that great changes have been made. It seems as though it is a never ending fight. And it seems as though we will never “win.” I can’t see it happening in my lifetime, so you Millennials better take it over. You are all humans too. The only tools we seem to have in our European white system of governing and thinking of the creation of laws and enforcement of them. It seems unfortunate that that even though what is required to bring about equality and belonging is often ignored, forgotten or aggressively opposed; we should continue to strive to come up with a better way. By writing this blog, I ask that we will focus on that day, Bloody Sunday. In addition, as we consider during this presidential voting season filled as it is with vitriol and concerns about whether we are actually getting accurate information about candidates and viruses and just about anything else that we must think about in order to improve ourselves and our country that we do the following: Consider where we have come from, what it will take to get to where we are going, to remember always what our fellow human beings have endured before us in order to get to where we are today and to always, always work towards ensuring the existence of the innate equality and belonging of all human beings and building that more perfect union.
Hanging on my wall just to the side of the front door of my house is a very large framed poster of Thurgood Marshall with a quote from him: “in recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” I put it there is you can’t leave my house without seeing it. What more can be said then that if we are going to create equality, belonging any more perfect union?
* I use the word “our” to refer to mostly white Europeans who settled in this country. Certainly those whose ancestors who were brought against their will and those who this country has tried to ban, remove and prevent from entering cannot be included.
You know who you are! Yesterday, January 26, 2020, at approximately 2:00 PM at the parking lot at 14th St. and Market Street at least until approximately 5:30 PM.
It may very well be that such language in the title of this blog is unbecoming of the Legal Program Director of a statewide well-established and highly regarded disability rights organization, but, frankly, OSK 069, I don’t give a damn. In this day and age, this seems to be the way people communicate.
So what part of the driver’s exam did you not understand? Yellow crosshatched areas mean, “NO PARKING!”
“It shall be unlawful for any vehicle to park in any area designated for loading and unloading of a vehicle designed for the mobility impaired by pavement markings such as cross-hatching or by other indication. These areas are access aisles and parking by any vehicle is prohibited at all times.”
Denv. Mun. Ord. § 54-485(i).
For those of us who use wheelchairs and who drive vans with sideloading wheelchair lifts or wheelchair ramps, this has become an increasingly common problem: crosshatched access aisles are there for a reason. You know it. Stop acting stupid. This is not motorcycle parking. This is not an accessible parking space. This is an access aisle adjacent to and accessible parking space that is required by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state law and Denver ordinances. It is there for a purpose. It allows those of us who use wheelchairs who must strive vehicles with wheelchair lifts or wheelchair ramps to have enough space to get in and out of our vehicles.
You knew when you parked your motorcycle in that crosshatched aisle that it was not a parking space. You knew when you parked your motorcycle and that crosshatched aisle that it was illegal. You knew when you parked your motorcycle in that crosshatched aisle you were going to deny somebody who uses a wheelchair access to parking in downtown Denver. You just didn’t care! What kind of person are you? Why is your life more important than mine? Why do you get to enjoy the company of your friends downtown and I don’t? You blocked access to the only place I had anywhere close to where I wanted to go to be able to park. Do you hate people who use wheelchairs? Or are you just an a**hole? You are lucky that people wheelchairs are strong enough to knock your stupid motorcycle over.
Although I was just trying to spend a little time with some friends downtown probably just like you, you made it extremely difficult to do so. Parking for those of us who drive vehicles with sideloading wheelchair lifts or wheelchair ramps is extremely limited. Especially downtown. With the advent of bike lanes that make it virtually impossible to park on the right side of the road (which is absolutely necessary for these kinds of vans) on many of Denver’s streets (an issue that we will be taking on as well because we have no choice), street parking has become almost nonexistent. For many of us, parking garages are very difficult to use because you have to be able to reach out of your vehicle and grab a ticket out of a machine that most of us cannot reach. Therefore, parking garages are off-limits. Surface level parking lots are disappearing as more and more buildings are being constructed. That means all that is left are the handful of surface-level parking lots that still exist. But because you are more important than me, I guess you are entitled to completely disregard the civil rights of people with disabilities.
Oh sure. The Denver ordinances give me options for addressing the issue. For example, I could have spent the couple of hours I had to spend with my friends I had not seen in a long time calling the Denver police. Then I could’ve waited for the Denver police to show up. Then we would’ve had to talk over what the problem was. Then, as usually happens, I would have to show them that they do, in fact, have the right to enforce parking violations on private property. Then, they might issue a ticket or tow you out of the space, but how much of the few hours that I had to spend my friends with this have consumed? Is this the way you wanted to spend your day in downtown Denver? Why should I have to?
But why should you care? You don’t have a disability. You don’t have to drive all over downtown circling the place it is you want to go to over and over again to try to find someplace to let your wheelchair lift or wheelchair ramp down.
No. You just hop on your motorcycle and ride baby ride! And apparently you park wherever you damned well feel like it.
Truth be told, you might have a much better understanding of this issue in the not-to-distant future. In a 2014 study published by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, motorcycle accidents were the fifth leading cause of spinal court injury. So, who knows? You might have a much clearer understanding of the issue sometime in the near future. Maybe then you’ll care. Until then, kindly please stop screwing up my weekends. I really appreciate it.
And finally, was that a parking ticket I noticed on your motorcycle when I left? I wonder how that happened.
Kindly please, think before you park, A**hole!
As you will see above, the Denver Municipal Ordinances specifically prohibit vehicles from parking in crosshatched areas. This one is really amazing! (1) it is a Denver police car in the crosshatched zone; (2) it is at CCDC’s office building; (3) that is my van immediately to the left of it, and my ramp unfolds exactly where that police car is parked. The municipal ordinances require calling the police when people park in the spaces. The problem is, of course, very few of us have time to wait for the police to come and deal with the issue. My van cannot be driven by someone else. There is no driver seat, and I have very expensive and technical equipment that I would only want someone who was specifically trained on it to drive it. Therefore, simply backing it out is not an option although everyone always asks me this rather than moving the car out of the illegally parked loading zone.
I had lengthy discussions with our management company to request that they install appropriate accessible parking throughout our building complex and install signs that are also referenced in the Denver Municipal Ordinances that say that there should be a sign posted at the front of the access aisle stating exactly what the sign states.
There is a “loading zone” directly on the other side of the overhang to the entrance of the building. When you look at the picture, you’ll notice that no one is parked there. When I use the seemingly unlawyerly language in the caption of my post, I never thought I would have to apply it to those who are supposed to be enforcing the law I was complaining about.
I guess the guy on the motorcycle was just following an example.
Each year, the staff and many of our amazing volunteers at CCDC keep the office doors open and work on this very important holiday, a day dedicated to this true leader in the civil rights movement. Why? This movement has inspired and driven so much of what the disability rights community has done. The author of this blog has devoted a great amount of time studying Dr. King and the civil rights movement and the lawyers who were involved with that movement in order to build CCDC’s Civil Rights Legal Program. To pay tribute to Dr. King, CCDC always works on Martin Luther King Day. We believe the best way to honor this great civil rights hero is to continue championing the causes of people with disabilities by working on this day. Continue reading “Why CCDC Always Remains Working on Martin Luther King Day”
Some words of appreciation to the New York Times Magazine for recognizing the life of Carrie Ann Lucas are warranted. So thanks from so many of us to The New York Times that had the ken and cognizance to place Carrie Lucas in The New York Times Magazine, “The Lives They Lived, remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year”: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/23/magazine/carrie-ann-lucas-death.html. 
From Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director
I won’t be joining you, but thanks for the invitation.
As we all know, there is “no place like home for the holidays.” So why is it that I and so many of my friends, colleagues, clients and CCDC members who use motorized or other wheelchairs can’t join you and yours for such festivities at your inaccessible house? The answer is simple. You hate us. No, I’m just kidding. The real reason is the law does not apply to “single-family homes,” meaning homes do not have to be accessible to people who use wheelchairs. (For those who don’t speak legalese, “single-family homes” mean “houses.”) So, thank you very much for your invitation, but unless you plan to throw me a turkey leg while I sit in your front yard longingly peeking in the window and seeking to enjoy everyone’s company around the Thanksgiving table, I will be unable to make it.
I know, I know. You have no problem carrying me up the stairs to get in your front door, but my motorized wheelchair weighs a few hundred pounds, and, after using a wheelchair for 33 years and eating (perhaps too much) at Thanksgiving dinners over the years, I’m not as svelte as I once was either. So “carrying” those of us who use wheelchairs is not only demeaning, but dangerous.
Finally, you might want to check your homeowner’s insurance policy before considering this option:
Even those of you with the best intentions (those who want to carry us) sometimes fail. This usually disrupts the holiday meal as well.
And yes. Maybe those cool foldout ramps that I carry around in my van for just such occasions might get me in the front door, but we should probably consider the ramifications of our situation if I have to use the restroom. Any thoughts about what I should do there? My guess is that the bathrooms in your house are probably not accessible. Beyond that, even if I get up this first step, often there are many more once I get inside. The ramps don’t always work. In fact, the first picture shows three steps leading to a porch with yet another step to the front door. My ramps definitely would not work under the circumstances.
But don’t worry! It is not your fault! I’m not going to sue you (well, I guess that depends on who invites me). It is simple. The federal and state Fair Housing Acts do not require your house to be accessible. Even if it was built last week. You have no legal obligation to provide me with an accessible house.
When I have tried to work with legislators to address this issue, I have found that I meet with great resistance from a constituency most legislators have called “home builders associations.” What they say is people can’t sell their house if it looks like a “handicap house,” and people surely don’t want to live in a “handicap house;” after all, they are so ugly. But is that true? Does having a single ramp or a flat, level entrance or 32-inch wide doors or a restroom that has enough room to accommodate an accessible toilet and/or a roll-in shower really cause some sort of depreciation in the value of your home? Does anyone have any data to back this up? I think not, but data and evidence do not seem to matter much these days so I guess we will just take the word of the home builders association. In point of fact, as an individual who has sold an accessible property, I can tell you on a personal level, those features actually increased the resale value. This is in part because accessibility opened up the opportunity of homeownership to a wider market of people. The person who bought my last home was an individual who used a wheelchair. Because I had created a van-accessible parking space in the garage in the building and built a roll-in shower, and because the home was a condominium that is required to meet minimal Fair Housing Act requirements (e.g., there was a ramp to the front door), the buyer found these features to be very helpful and something he could not find everywhere else he had looked.
Here’s the deal: the federal and state Fair Housing Acts require very minimal accessibility features. Also, those very minimal accessible features only apply to multi-family housing (essentially, apartments and condominiums). In these multifamily housing units (the requirement is four or more units connected together either on one level ore by an elevator), there are seven basic requirements, and they are very minimal as set forth in the Fair Housing Act Design Manual.
Single-family homes ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BE ACCESSIBLE AT ALL! There is no requirement in the federal or state Fair Housing Acts that any access be provided. (By the way, don’t be confused. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to housing — at least not what I am discussing here.) There is also a state law in Colorado that requires some things related to accessibility that are not included in the Fair Housing Act, but even these do not apply to single-family homes. The bottom line is houses simply are not required to be accessible by any law. Guess what? As a result, they aren’t accessible. Not even a little bit. Very many of us who use wheelchairs are simply excluded from an enormous amount of everyday, normal human activity that the rest of you take for granted.
Why?! There is no good reason with respect to newly-designed houses. It is much more complicated and expensive to remodel a house to make it accessible than it is to build the house that way in the first place.
Stop for a moment and think about all of the activity that occurs inside your or a family member’s house. The holidays and all of the get-togethers with family and friends during this time of year simply exclude a large and growing portion of the population who use wheelchairs and who cannot access many houses. Unfortunately, because of the resistance to incorporating a handful of simple design features into newly constructed houses, your homes are no place for us for the holidays. And let’s put holidays aside. Think of how much human activity occurs inside people’s house — where people get together for almost any social experience you can imagine. Beyond that, I keep hearing about many of my friends who can walk who have been out “door-knocking” for candidates running for office. (I hear this kind of stuff is really popular in places like Iowa.) But I can’t even do that because I can’t get to your door. I can’t get into my neighbors’ houses to even say hello because their front doors are not accessible.
I was able to buy a house that was made accessible, in large part, by the previous owner before I moved in. I have continued to make accessibility improvements in the 10 years I have lived there. I find the fact that hardly anyone has addressed the issue of providing accessibility to single-family homes a little strange because my friends and family who can walk love my accessible house. My house (built in 1957) has been converted in many different ways to be accessible to people who use wheelchairs. I have a large ramp with shrubbery in front of it at the front door. I have another ramp in the garage so I can get to my accessible van. Many of the kitchen counters have been lowered and have open space underneath them so people use wheelchairs can get to the sink and the stove. The vast majority of the doorways to my house are at least 32 inches wide, and I have an enormous concrete deck with a hot tub built-in so someone can either transfer from a wheelchair directly to the hot tub or use the lift I had installed. The house has two bathrooms. One of them has a roll-in shower. The other one has a bathtub. (Most houses built these days would have glass-enclosed showers that would have to be totally ripped out and redesigned if the house were to be used by someone who uses a wheelchair. Many of my family and friends who have stayed at my house have used my roll-in shower without complaint. After all, it is just a shower.) In fact, there is nothing about any of the accessible features of my house that makes them inaccessible to people who do not use wheelchairs. I don’t think most people even notice. More often than not, my houseguests who do not use wheelchairs who walk say they really love the open spaces and wide doors and other access features. So many of my friends who are not tall love the lowered counters. The accessible deck (accessible by French doors from the living room and sliding glass doors from the master bedroom) with ramps to the yard and to the sidewalk that leads up to the gate is fantastic. Why would you not want these features? What is wrong with a “handicap house?”
On top of all of that, it is so much more expensive to make a house accessible after it has already been built to be inaccessible. Even widening a door to make it 32 inches can be an extremely costly endeavor and sometimes almost impossible.
Here is another consideration. Have you ever moved a couch or a bed or a refrigerator? Having a ramp, 32-inch-wide doors and wide-open spaces throughout your house make it much easier to accomplish this task. The moving company that moved me into my house said it was the easiest move they had ever made. What is it about stairs that is so cool? Why do we have them? They seem dangerous. Maybe they are.
Now, of course, no one would INTENTIONALLY exclude us, would they? I mean you have been actively lobbying your state and federal legislators and asked them to require that single-family homes be made accessible, haven’t you? I thought so. You would never want to discriminate against us.
Why haven’t we done that? Are the home builders right? Is there something disgusting about the so-called “handicap house?” Do a couple of grab bars next to the toilet just make you sick to your stomach? Does this all stem from some deep-seated fear that you all might need to use those accessible features in the future and you refuse to accept that?
You really should check it out because you could get your state or local or even national legislators to sign on to the concept of “visitability.” This just means that all houses must be designed and constructed with basic accessibility features, including a zero-step entrance, wide passage doors, and at least a half-bathroom on the main floor that meets basic Fair Housing Act requirements. As the word suggests, the idea behind visitability is to make your home accessible enough that your friends, family and loved ones who use wheelchairs can visit.
This is one of those flat, level entrances I mentioned. Pretty hideous, isn’t it? I mean, who in the world would want to live in a house with that atrocious flat level entry? It is so disgusting!
Yuck! Who could live like this? There goes the neighborhood!
Repulsive! Now we’ve gone too far!
Certain U.S. cities and even the United Kingdom have adopted various types of visitability laws that require some measure of very simple accessibility be incorporated into the design and construction of all new housing. Austin, Texas, for example, has an ordinance that applies to any permit for construction of a new single-family or duplex dwelling with habitable space on the first floor and requires that house must meet certain visitability requirements., 
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your invitation, but I will not be attending because I can’t get in the front door (or any other door) and I can’t use the restroom. I’m going to my boss’s house. She uses a wheelchair. So does her partner. Their house is pretty darned accessible. I look forward to having Thanksgiving dinner with my friends and colleagues, many of whom use wheelchairs, at my friend’s house. When I go there, I can get in the house, I can have Thanksgiving dinner with my friends and colleagues; I can even use the restroom. Isn’t that crazy? Having people who use wheelchairs come to your house for a holiday gathering? Seems silly, right? I ask everyone reading this who owns a home that is not wheelchair accessible to stop and think how many times you have your friends and family visit you at your home. Now, stop and think about whether a friend or family member who uses a wheelchair could join you. Now, stop and think about what you’re going to have to do when you need accessible features in your house.
And, seriously, I thoroughly understand and completely confess there may be many reasons why you would not want me to be at your Thanksgiving dinner table, but are you really going to use the “my house is not wheelchair accessible” excuse? I mean this is getting old. You know somebody who uses a wheelchair who cannot easily access your house and use basic facilities like the restroom. Admit it! Do you just not invite that person, or do you go through great difficulties getting that person in and out of your house and dealing with the restroom situation?
Happy Thanksgiving! And special holiday wishes to you and yours if you are part of a home builders association that has actively opposed any legislation requiring or encouraging the advancement of visitability features in newly designed and constructed homes. It would be a shame if you hurt yourself carrying a relative up your front stairs for Thanksgiving dinner. And please be careful not to trip on one of those steps.
Maybe I will swing by after all. What are you having for dessert?
November 26, 2019
 Trust me, this is their language and not mine. I would never use that word in describing a house, but that is what they say.
 https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/PDF/FAIRHOUSING/fairfull.pdf (visited Nov. 25, 2019).
 See “Injuries and stairs occur in all age groups and abilities,” a 2017 article published by Reuters, claiming that, “More than 1 million Americans injure themselves on stairs each year, according to a study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine,” at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-injuries-stairs/injuries-on-stairs-occur-in-all-age-groups-and-abilities-idUSKBN1CE1Z4 (visited Nov. 25, 2019).
 See, e.g., “Increasing Home Access: Designing for Visitability,” published by the AARP in 2008, at https://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/2008_14_access.pdf (visited Nov. 25, 2019). Page 32 provides a listing of locations that have enacted laws or ordinances. I want to stress that I have not investigated the correctness or authenticity of references to laws or ordinances requiring visitability. The purpose of these references is to allow the reader to get a glimpse of what is possible.
 Ordinance No. 20140130-021 R320 “Visitability,” http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=205386 (visited Nov. 25, 2019).
 See “Accessibility and Visibility Features in Single-family Homes: A Review of State and Local Activity” by Andrew Kochera, published in March 2002 by the AARP Public Policy Institute, a division of the Policy and Strategy Group at AARP. https://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/2002_03_homes.pdf (visited Nov. 25, 2019).