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Virtual Lobby Day Is Next Week! Call to Action

National Low-Income Housing Coalition                                       View this email in your browser

The U.S. Senate will move on a COVID-19 spending package before the end of July. The window is closing for needed advocacy. The time to act is now!

NLIHC and our partners throughout the country have been hard at work urging Congress to adopt our key priorities in the next COVID legislative package, including $100 billion in emergency rental assistance, a national eviction moratorium, and $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grant funding for homeless service providers. Now is the time for advocates to take action to demand #RentReliefNow!

Participate in a Virtual Lobby Day on July 21!

When the Senate returns to work on July 20, they will begin discussions and negotiations on a spending package to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recession. Any final bill must include the housing provisions of HEROES Act that has passed in the House of Representatives. In this crucial moment, join NLIHC and numerous national partners by setting up virtual lobby visits throughout the day on Tuesday, July 21.

NLIHC’s toolkit makes your participation easy. The toolkit includes talking points, statistics, a template email to request a meeting, a list of top policy asks, and sample tweets. NLIHC staff are also available to help set up and attend your virtual meetings if such assistance is needed. Please reach out to your housing advocacy organizers for more information; we look forward to assisting you in your advocacy!

If you have meetings already setup for Virtual Lobby Day, let us know by emailing any of the organizers on NLIHC’s field team or by filling out this quick form to submit your meeting. When your lobby meetings are done, please also complete this Lobby Visit Report Back Form. Even if you have done a meeting in the past couple of days or will do one or more on other days next week, we’ll still count that for our total. And be sure to tweet about your meetings by tagging your member of Congress and using the hashtag #RentReliefNow!
Thank you for your advocacy!

National Low Income Housing CoalitionThe National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.

Contact Us:
National Low Income Housing Coalition
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005
202-662-1530 x247

www.nlihc.org

The Denver Commission for People with Disabilities is seeking applicants!

The mission of Denver’s Commission for People with Disabilities is to promote equity for people with disabilities through empowerment, advocacy, and education by working with community members, and City and County of Denver officials and employees who have the ability to affect change.

The Commission is seeking candidates with experience in one or all of the following fields:

  • Writing
  • Decision making
  • Project Management
  • Marketing/Social Media
  • Team management

Individuals with disabilities as well as community representatives with expertise, understanding, and experience in these specific areas are encouraged to apply. Applications are also accepted from individuals who are not living with a disability but have a strong interest in serving the disability community.

The Commission meets the first Tuesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205) in Studio 106. Due to COVID-19 closures and social distancing measures, meetings will be open to the public via video conferencing technology. Please check our Facebook page for upcoming meeting announcements and access information.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the upcoming commission meetings. Interested applicants should apply here and attach a copy of their resume.

The deadline for applications is Monday, August 3, 2020.

People with Disabilities Prayed for by Strangers – a Research Survey

A research study from the University of Colorado Denver is asking for help from the disability community.  They are seeking individuals with disabilities who have had a stranger tell them they will pray for them. The goal of the study is to identify patterns within experiences.

To qualify for the 5 to 10-minute survey, you must:

  • Be an adult between the ages of 18-89
  • Live in the U.S.
  • Have a disability in any one or more of these categories
    • ambulatory
    • hearing
    • independent living
    • self-care
    • vision
  • Have experienced a stranger offering to pray for you

The study is limited to adults with only these disabilities because we are unable to meet the requirements needed to administer it for adults with any cognitive disabilities. If you have a cognitive disability, we, unfortunately, cannot collect your information at this time. (Cognitive disability is defined as having difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem.)

The study will collect demographic information and sentiments felt about this experience. Demographic information consists of disability status, age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income range, and religious participation.

The survey will not record anyone’s name, email address, or other identifying information.

If you are willing to spend five to ten minutes answering a few questions, please follow this link: People with Disabilities Prayed for by Strangers

Transit Updates

 

by Jaime Lewis - CCDC Transit Advocate and Advisor

July 9, 2020

  • Invest in America Act

  • RTD Reimagine

  • Rural Transportation

  • COVID- 19

  • Summary


1. Invest in America Act

State and County governments have struggled for two decades to fund repairs for roads and bridges.  Rising costs and dwindling gas tax revenues have left most of the roads and bridges in our state at near or below standards.

Congress is currently debating the Invest Act.  The Invest Act is a sub-portion of the larger act called the “Moving Forward Act” that will address housing, climate change, water, and land use.  Four highlights of the Invest Act are,

  • States would get more money to end traffic violence.  Thirty percent increase in road safety funding and sixty percent increase for bike lanes and sidewalks.  These percentages seem like a large increase but it must be noted that funding for these categories was small, to begin with.  It will be imperative to monitor and influence the way these funds will be spent.  Organizations like Mile High Connects, Denver Streets Partnership, Bicycle Colorado, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, and citizens like you will be essential to ensure monies are spent properly.
  • Departments of Transportation would have to fix existing roads before building new ones.  This issue may not appear to be a primary issue for someone who does not own a vehicle.  However, inter-connectivity across older roads, i.e. sidewalks, bicycle paths will help eliminate communities from being separated.
  • Congestion pricing is a tool that governments will be looking at closely.  Charging drivers during peak traffic periods may become a benefit to transit riders.  Some of the restrictions on using congestion pricing are that the jurisdiction cannot charge transit vehicles.  Roads designated for congestion pricing would also have to have a low-income alternative for the same route, i.e. bus, train.
  • The act will provide 8.3 billion dollars to lower the carbon footprint.  One of the efforts is to expand the use of E-Vehicles by building more infrastructure to support it.  Debates have already started whether this is a good investment.  Most planners who have been trying to lower the use of single-occupancy vehicles are against filling up our roads with E-vehicles.  In the advent that the population of E-vehicles increases our community must ensure that the product is accessible.

2. REIMAGINE

Two years ago, Dave Genova, former CEO of RTD had a vision.  He wanted to reimagine RTD.  In other words, what would people expect of RTD in 2050?

  • Meetings started shortly after his announcement.  There were an enthusiasm and large participation for the first two meetings.  Unfortunately, the pandemic, sliding economy, and civil unrest redirected the group to focus on service cuts to insure that RTD could survive financially.  The group is assisting RTD in dealing with financial realities, safety concerns, and unrealistic expectations that were placed on the organization two decades ago (trains, trains, trains).
  • No doubt, there will be service reductions for the district.  There will be an emphasis on maintaining and improving the remainder of the district after cuts to service.
  • One of the structures we are trying to maintain is the Access-a-Ride.  Under current policy RTD only provides service ¾ mile from fixed routes.  If routes are to be eliminated or shortened we must insist that AAR remain active in those areas.

3. RURAL TRANSPORTATION

The average length of a car trip is 2-4 miles.  Smaller communities provide little to no transportation for our elderly, disabled, and the general public.  A trip less than 4 miles could mean access to groceries, healthcare, recreation, and social interaction.

  • Rural communities must recognize the importance of keeping their citizens mobile.  Investing in local transportation helps maintain a healthy community and economy.  When local dollars are used to support transportation, those dollars stay in the community.
  • If you identify a small start-up carrier or a struggling transit system in your area start campaigning for local dollars to be invested into them.

4. COVID-19

  • Wear the damn mask!

That’s all I got to say about that.

5. Summary:

CCDC provides this information so you are informed of transit information.  We hope some of you will take this knowledge and use it to share with your local representatives.

  • Attend your local meetings if possible.
    • This includes City Council Meetings or County Commissioner meetings.
    • These government bodies are required to have virtual meetings so that you can participate.
  • Start a conversation.
    • You will be surprised how many elected officials are waiting for good input from you.

4 Things to Research Before Launching Your Political Career

Young professional woman speaking on the phone while looking at a laptop. Gives the impressions of someone doing research.

Article by Ed Carter Ablefutures.org | ed.carter@ablefutures.org

Running for office takes courage and determination, but it can also require some research. If you are a person who is living with disabilities and is contemplating getting more involved in politics, completing this research can help you make a more informed decision. Here are some of the essential topics you will need to look into before starting your campaign.  Continue reading “4 Things to Research Before Launching Your Political Career”

2034: The OASI exhausts its asset reserves (if treated separately)

Social Security is actually comprised of two trusts:

  • The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust, which provides payouts to retired workers and survivors of deceased workers; and
  • The Disability Insurance (DI) trust, which supplies payments to workers that are long-term disabled.

When the Trustees examine the long-term outlook for Social Security, they hypothetically combine the financials of these two trusts into one (known as the OASDI). But if these two trusts were examined individually, the OASI is in far greater danger of exhausting its asset reserves sooner. Based on the latest report, the OASI is expected to deplete its asset reserves by 2034, at which point benefit cuts would become necessary to sustain solvency.

Read the full article here.

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition stands with the Black Lives Matters movement to bear witness to the pain of centuries of racial oppression, inequity and white supremacy intensified by recent brutal actions including but not limited to the murder of George Floyd, the flaunting of white privilege by Amy Cooper, and the recent executions of Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.    The anger is righteous and fueled by the exacerbation of racial disparities played out in the lacking response to the novel Coronavirus and some of the racist “dog whistle” rhetoric that goes with how we talk about “underlying conditions” which often involves victim-blaming rather than calling out oppressive policies of racism that permeates our health care systems.

This is not to disregard all of the cumulative behaviors/actions of the past.  The oppressive policies of racism (both their design and how we carry them out explicitly and implicitly) permeate life in America and around the world, including the disability community.  All of us who have benefited from our whiteness has a responsibility to actively engage in dismantling those systems. There are things white people can do and we must do so without making it about us.  We must work together with our brothers and sisters in communities of color.  Organizations led by marginalized communities must work against systemic racism. This is true for us even when disability is not the main issue. 

So, why is CCDC saying anything?   Because race and disability work together.  People of color, particularly Black, Latino, and Indigenous people are more likely to have disabilities.   Every factual indicator of disparity including health outcomes, education, employment, accumulation of wealth, the likelihood of being in a congregate setting including prison, jail, nursing facility, or homeless shelter, rises when you mix race and disability.   People of color live with the constant stress of racism.  This “toxic stress” causes many health conditions that can lead to disability.   While there are no publicly know indications that the recent murder victims had disabilities many previous well-known victims did including Freddie Gray and Eric Garner. Moreover, Black people and other people of color are an important part of our organization.  But this must go beyond disability.  Our mission is to advocate for social justice and that includes being an ally even when disability is not part of the picture and even when it is not on the front pages.  We must support organizations led by people of color and show up when invited and make offers to assist when we know of a need or understand the issues.  It is up to all of us to dismantle the societal structures that got us to this place.   We must do our own internal work as an organization and community to build a culture of equity, diversity, inclusiveness, and belonging, and at the same time work on systems issues.  We need to increase the numbers of people of color throughout our organization and movement, especially in leadership positions.  We must do this work every day and honor the goals set out in our strategic plan that integrate racial equity into all of our work.

“I still have not found the right words.”

Dear CCDC Members:

I have long admired the work of the National Federation of the Blind.  I have been at a loss for words and thinking about what to say that is meaningful in light of all that is going on.  I still have not found the right words, but the message from the president of NFB is important and I think this is relevant for all disability groups.

Julie Reiskin, CCDC Executive Director


From Mark A. Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind

I write this message to you as the elected President of the National Federation of the Blind. I also write it to you as an American who is struggling this week. I call upon members of our organization to recognize the solidarity we share as blind people and that the value we place on love within our movement is needed more today than at any other time in our history.

I watched the horrific video shot by a brave seventeen-year-old of the killing of George Floyd, a citizen of our great nation. Before I watched the video, I wondered what I could do and how I could contribute to healing the pain. I had no answers. After I watched the video, I realized I still did not have the answers and I was sad, angry, scared, frustrated, and without hope. Then I realized that we share tools in the National Federation of the Blind that can help. We can not look away and we need to share what we know from our experience in this people’s movement.

Our movement has been sustained for the purpose of serving as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the nation to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind. While racial equality in our nation is not within our mission, we also recognize that blindness affects all races and that the society we live within has an impact on our membership.

The Federation’s Code of Conduct specifically emphasizes our commitments to diversity. In short “We respect differences of opinion, beliefs, identities, and other characteristics that demonstrate that blind people are a diverse cross-section of society…In promoting a diverse and growing organization, we expect integrity and honesty in our relationships with each other and openness to learning about and experiencing cultural diversity. We believe that these qualities are crucial to fostering social and intellectual maturity. Intellectual maturity also requires the individual to struggle with unfamiliar ideas.” This week, I have been struggling to comprehend the fear and anger that black members of my Federation family are experiencing. I do not, and never can have the authentic lived experience that you have, but yet I am also completely outraged by the hate and injustice that fell upon George Floyd on Monday. I recognize there are many centuries of painful layers wrapped up in that moment. I recognize that George is neither the first nor the last in a chain of injustices that need to be addressed. I want you to know I stand with you in facing the injustice that persists against you because of the color of your skin. I want you to know that I love you and I struggle with not being able to fully know your pain and fear. I want you to know I am prepared to be guided by you as to how I can make a difference. I cannot say that I have not become desensitized in times past, but I can tell you I will never turn away again.

While our organization is dedicated to advancing the rights of blind people, we should not act as though race does not exist. As our chapters attempt to do business, as we urge our members to take up our priorities, we should recognize that thousands of our members are impacted by the painful realizations of this week. As a people’s movement, we cannot pretend that our people only have one characteristic. Now is the time to let each member know we love them and we recognize their hurt. Now is also the time for us to recognize, as individuals, that we carry implicit bias learned from the society around us, and to seek the training that will enhance our awareness. Now is the time to give love to our black members so that we might learn how we can do better in building the understanding that powers the organized blind movement.

Now is not the time for us to use our organizational communication tools to offer position statements about the activities playing out on the streets of our nation. it is easy to write messages and posts of solidarity without having a true understanding of the issues. It is easy to suggest that we share the concerns of our black members. The harder thing for us to do is to consciously listen and seek understanding while supporting others in their pain and frustration. The Federation has never been known for merely doing what is easy. The priority today is to ensure all of our black members know they are welcomed and loved in this movement. In fact, we should extend that same truth to any others who feel the real pain sweeping our nation. Please do not use organizational assets to enter the dialogue around race. That is not our purpose as an organization and we may unintentionally make it worse. We need to continue to coordinate messaging and to be guided by the wisdom of our diversity and inclusion committee. As leaders of our movement, we should also be conscious that our public posts may be misunderstood as representing the Federation. Our personal feelings and misunderstanding around the death of George Floyd, the protests sweeping our nation, and the underlying systemic discrimination may hurt and divide members of the organization. We cannot let that happen and we must be careful as leaders not to add to the pain our members are experiencing. As it relates to our public messaging, let us stay focused on the priorities of the organized blind movement. As it comes to our cherished friends, let our priority be to reach out personally to listen and offer our hands in support.

I have had the opportunity to gather virtually with some of our top black leaders­a group who will continue to guide my actions related to these issues. I asked them for wisdom and love in finding ways that I could guide our membership during this trying time in our nation. Their message was clear. Our movement is built on love and love always conquers hate. The Federation family needs to shine a light for the rest of the nation by continuing to demonstrate that the love, and solidarity, that we share with each other in this movement makes all the difference. They also noted that our organization has always valued civil disobedience and the persistent pursuit of equality. They urged that we continue to pray for peace, justice, and equality. I could not agree more with these friends I have been blessed to learn from in our movement. Furthermore, I am thankful that we have a movement that provides us a meaningful opportunity to know people whose lived experience is so different from our own while sharing a common bond as blind people.

In the National Federation of the Blind, we know that blindness is not the characteristic that defines us or our future. Blindness is the thing that brings us together but it is not the thing that makes us want to stay together. That, in a word, is love.  We have love in our movement and we strengthen it by giving it. We have some wisdom and we strengthen it by continuing to seek greater understanding. We need more of both love and wisdom at every opportunity. Let’s continue to share love, hope, and determination with each other so that together we transform our dreams into reality. One of those dreams still left to be transformed is that of a nation where we can join together regardless of our unique characteristics. That is a dream I am struggling to help my own children understand so they may do better than I in making it come true. I speak for all of our national board members when I say we sincerely believe that the love and togetherness demonstrated in our movement can go a long way in contributing to that dream. It can be hard to remember that in this moment when so many of us are hurting, angry, frustrated, and scared. Let us continue to support each other in the Federation family. Let us avoid the harmful language that will only serve to divide us in this time. Let us go forward together, love one another, and change the world for the better.

Mark A. Riccobono


Please see and share our website on disability-specific issues related to COVID 19 in Colorado
Sincerely,
Julie Reiskin,  Executive Director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
1385 S. Colorado Blvd. Suite 610-A   Denver*, CO 80222
Organizational Line 303-839-1775
If you do not have a seat at the table it is likely you are on the menu Elizabeth Warren (D).
Get involved in politics as if your life depends on it because it does!  Justin Dart (R)
*Denver is on the occupied land of the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne people
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US — EVER

CCDC Statement on Masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2020: 

DENVER, Colorado—The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) is Colorado’s largest statewide, disability-led, disability rights organization. CCDC advocates for social justice on behalf of people with all types of disabilities (cross-disability). This Statement is made jointly by CCDC’s Executive Director, CCDC’s staff, and CCDC’s Civil Rights Legal Program. This Statement is not intended to be construed as legal advice. As set forth below, all information regarding how to proceed under the circumstances is made available by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

CCDC was founded 30 years ago to make sure that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became real in Colorado. To that end, we have been involved in both education and enforcement regarding the ADA. CCDC has been aggressive about requiring governments and businesses to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to enable people with disabilities to have equal access to any public accommodation. A public accommodation is any place where the public can engage in activities such as stores, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, golf courses, etc. Non-profits like CCDC’s office and meeting areas are public accommodations. (All information about what the ADA says is publicly available on the DOJ website www.ada.gov.) The ADA also applies to state and local governments (including special districts), transportation, and employment. 

We have learned that people who object to requirements to wear masks or face coverings are advising followers to state that they have a disability and that it is a violation of the ADA to require that individuals wear a mask. There are individuals with disabilities who cannot use masks at all or who can but only with great difficulty. Securing a mask may be difficult to impossible for individuals who may not be able to get a mask on and off independently and lack constant support from a caregiver or other person and for individuals with facial anomalies. However, we are aware there are others invoking this rule without cause.

It is our position that businesses and governments ARE allowed to deny entrance to people who are not wearing masks. In fact, we encourage it.

Public accommodations must also protect their employees and other customers. In fact, the DOJ already has spoken on the issue of the fraudulent claims by people who simply do not want to wear a mask and claim they have a disability as the reason why. The DOJ position states the following: “The Department urges the public not to rely on the information contained in these postings and to visit ADA.gov for ADA information issued by the Department.” See *COVID-19 ALERT: Fraudulent Facemask Flyers* (DOJ COVID-19 ALERT). Furthermore, the ADA regulations in the section that governs public accommodations speak to this issue:

Sec. 36.208 Direct threat.

(a) This part [Title III of the ADA] does not require a public accommodation to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of that public accommodation when that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

(b) Direct threat means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

(c) In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, a public accommodation must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain: the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.

If a person claims that they are unable to use a mask, the public accommodation must make reasonable efforts to accommodate the customer in a different way. This must not involve requiring staff to take unsafe risks. A reasonable person can conclude that behaviors that are contrary to local health department guidelines are unreasonable and unsafe. Some examples of accommodations or modifications might include:

  • Telephone or video chat services
  • Curbside delivery
  • Allowing a substitute person to pick up and item with proper permission. This may include taking a credit or debit card number by phone and then allowing someone else to pick up the item with a special code
  • When possible and in some unique situations, delivering the good to the person outside of curbside delivery

CCDC recommends that businesses post a sign outside that says “Masks Required” and also provides a phone number and email address for someone to contact should they be unable to use a mask. Doing this will eliminate the need for an employee to have to debate the situation with an un-masked person.


“We want you to protect your employees. Some may have disabilities themselves, but more importantly, they are our neighbors, friends, and the essential workers that keep our community going. Why would anyone want to risk harming the people that they want to provide service to them?” Julie Reiskin, Executive Director 


Common Questions:

Can I ask the person what their disability is?

No, you cannot. You can ask why they cannot wear a mask, but it is irrelevant. You do not need to let them in.

Can I ask for proof of disability?

No. Generally, requiring an individual to prove a disability does not occur a complaint is filed and you are in court for an ADA lawsuit or before the DOJ for an administrative complaint. Remember, the person claiming a disability has the burden of proving their disability meets the strict definitions of the ADA to the court. If the individual who does not want to wear a mask does not have a disability but claims that they do and if the claim is fraudulent, the individual will lose in court. It is a risk. Fraudulent lawsuits have consequences. If someone asks for a modification of policy that is significant or maybe an undue burden, the public accommodation could ask for proof, but we recommend you avoid this and consult with an attorney before doing so. Having a condition or diagnosis does not necessarily mean that the person has a disability under the ADA. What meets the ADA definition of an individual with a disability is complicated and requires proof of a substantial limitation of a major life activity and more. All of this can be found on the DOJ website referenced above.

 What if the person has a note from their doctor?

That is irrelevant. Whether an individual is an individual with a disability is a legal definition, not a medical diagnosis.

How far must I go to provide services to this person?

A public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures. You need not fundamentally alter your business model or go to such extreme expense that it would cause your business undue hardship. A large business with branches would need to consider the entire company’s, not just one location’s, resources. Under no circumstances must you ever put your employees or customers in danger under the direct threat analysis.

What if my employee says they do not want to work near anyone who does not have a mask?

This is a reasonable request, and you should support this. Check with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for employee safety requirements. Also, you must follow state, city, or county orders that govern wearing a mask in a public location. You might violate the law by not wearing a mask. See also the DOJ COVID-19 ALERT referenced above.

What if the customer has a mask but it is hanging from their neck?

Instruct your staff to request that the customer secure the mask appropriately or leave. Confirm your staff knows to maintain appropriate social distancing restrictions of 6-feet as recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities.

What if someone has a visible disability and their mask falls off? Are you obligated to help the person put it on?

No, you are not required to provide personal services like this. If you or your staff want to do so you may offer and then listen to the individual as they instruct you on how to do this. However, any staff person who feels compromised or uncomfortable must be permitted to not provide this level of assistance. 

Specific disability issues:

While there appear to be people blithely making up disabilities, there are people with real disabilities, and the rule of reasonable modification of policies always applies with the caveats set forth above. 

Deaf/Hard of Hearing:

Very few Deaf people read lips as it is rare but sometimes effective. However, some people who are hard of hearing do use a combination of lip-reading and hearing aids to understand others. If you can have at least some employees use a mask with a clear plastic panel to make the mouth visible, that will be appreciated. A face shield might be appropriate under the circumstances. You should conduct research regarding available types of masks and face coverings to ensure they are effective for the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus.

Blind:

If you have signage, please have Braille underneath.* Also, have available paper flyers in very large print (20 point font or higher) with the phone number to call for assistance. (Dial 711 for a Relay Operator)

Mental Health/Cognitive:

While some individuals may not be able to understand why they have to wear a mask or have extreme discomfort when something is over their mouth, the health risks of allowing people in who are not masked outweighs the benefit. Make sure not to challenge their experience or act like you do not believe them if they say they cannot wear a mask.

Physical:

Some people have facial structures that make mask-wearing impossible or may be unable to secure a mask if it falls off. For most of these individuals, the risk of serious illness or death from contracting COVID-19 is quite high, particularly for employees or other customers who already have respiratory problems and/or other disabilities that compromise their immune systems and are likely to understand mask policies.

Speech:

People with speech disabilities may be a bit harder to understand when wearing a mask. Feel free to ask them to repeat themselves if you do not understand. Most people with speech disabilities will be happy to repeat themselves. If they are unwilling to do so, they are not assisting you in the process of facilitating communication. Therefore, they should not be permitted to enter.

Perspectives from CCDC Staff with Disabilities


Michelle McHenry-Edrington Advocacy Coordinator and Air Force Veteran and her service dog Edgar
Michelle McHenry-Edrington Advocacy Coordinator and Air Force Veteran and her service dog Edgar

“I went into service because I wanted to protect my country and help others. I would never want to risk un-knowingly spreading this disease now even if my PTSD makes it harder to wear a mask. The mask makes me feel as though I am deployed again and in my decontamination suit.”

Michelle McHenry-Edrington Advocacy Coordinator and Air Force Veteran and her service dog, Edgar

 

 


Kevin Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director.
Kevin Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director

“As a quadriplegic with limited hand function, I cannot re-secure most masks if it slips off. I understand I may need to leave a store or find another way to shop. That is an inconvenience. However, as a quadriplegic with reduced breathing capacity and a compromised immune system, I believe it is very likely I would not survive if infected with COVID. As a result, I will do everything in my power to ensure that I have a mask on so I do not infect you.  It is a matter of simple respect and kindness for other people and should not be made a political issue or an issue of faking disability for getting an accommodation.”

Kevin Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director


Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing.
Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing.

“I know I am hard to understand sometimes. I am never offended if you ask me to repeat myself.”  

Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing

ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY, LET US REMEMBER! | A message from Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

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!

Image of Wade Blank, standing in before an American flag
Wade Blank, crusader for the rights of people with disabilities transitioning from their incarceration in nursing homes to their own homes and creating, alongside people with disabilities, the organization ADAPT

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!

 

Plaque located at the site where the Gang of 19 protested on Colfax Ave. in Denver, Colorado
Plaque located at the site where the Gang of 19 protested on Colfax Ave. in Denver, Colorado

 

Image of protesters with disabilities who got out of their wheelchairs to block RTD buses in the 1984 “Gang of 19” protest
JUL 5 1978, JUL 6 1978 Demonstrators Sleep On the Job Four demonstrators sleep in the street Thursday morning after spending the night blocking two Regional Transportation District buses near the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street. They were among about 30 persons who maintained an overnight vigil to dramatize the need for greater accessibility to public transportation for the handicapped. The buses stopped and barricaded by about 30 persons early Wednesday, were freed Thursday morning. The barricade has served its purpose, said Wade Blank. Credit: Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)

 

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!

Picture of eight-year-old Jennifer Keelan leading people with physical disabilities protesting the lack of accessibility on the March 12, “Capitol Crawl” (© AP Images)
Picture of eight-year-old Jennifer Keelan leading people with physical disabilities protesting the lack of accessibility on the March 12, “Capitol Crawl” (© AP Images)
Image of President George H.W. Bush with Evan J. Kemp, Jr., then the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (pictured next to President Bush seated in his motorized wheelchair) and Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr., often called the “Godfather of the ADA,” an American activist and advocate for people with disabilities and co-founder of the American
Image of President George H.W. Bush with Evan J. Kemp, Jr., then the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (pictured next to President Bush seated in his motorized wheelchair) and Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr., often called the “Godfather of the ADA,” an American activist and advocate for people with disabilities and co-founder of the American Association of People with Disabilities (also pictured next to President Bush seated in his wheelchair)

 

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!

"mask loophole" meme that states "I am exempt from ALL REGULATION mandating face mask usage in public. Wearing a face mask poses a health risk to me. Under the ADA and HIPPA, I am NOT required to disclose my medical condition to anyone." The meme goes on to warn of financial penalties for businesses and provides a phone number for the Department of Justice.
ADA and HIPAA “mask loophole” meme

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!

Picture of Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director shown in front of banner that reads, “Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition: Nothing about us without us.”
Picture of Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director shown in front of
a banner that reads, “Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition: Nothing about us without us.”

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