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Congratulations to Jared Polis and Other Winners

CCDC wishes congratulations to our new Governor Jared Polis and looks forward to working with this new administration.   Our expectations of a new governor are clear and doable.   We look forward to advancing the rights of people with disabilities so that we can show our capabilities as full citizens.  This means a dramatic increase in the number of people with disabilities who are employed.  This means a dramatic improvement in the high school graduation of students with disabilities and making sure that students go to college or some sort of vocational program.   This means a government that values people with disabilities by having high expectations and providing appropriate supports.   This means a government that involves us at every level…on boards, commissions, as employees in state agencies, and on the transition team.    Governor-Elect Polis stated last night that his administration will be inclusive.   We expect to be part of this inclusion and to have disability representation in historic proportions and stand ready to help make that happen.

CCDC congratulates all of the representatives and senators that won their seats as well and we look forward to working with all of you on these same goals.

We will be solidifying legislative priorities for the next two years soon but among them will surely be:

1) Increasing protection for renters such as statewide source of income discrimination protection and habitability laws.

2) Extending the Mediciad Buy-In for Working Adults with Disabilities to people over the age of 65 and for more than 10 days in between jobs, even if we have to use state funds.   With the federal government giving the states carte blanche we should be able to get approval.

3) Getting safety protections for people living in host homes.

4) Consumer direction for all HCBS services.

5) Improving our case management systems, especially transition from institutions.

We will be focusing on money for solid transportation that has a focus on transit and affordable housing that is inclusive of everyone including those with very low income.   We will be working on increased accountability around behavioral health and overall health care in the Medicaid program.

On a federal level with the Democrats having a majority in the house, we will be holding Congresswoman DeGette accountable for her promises to us to fix the Electronic Visit Verification mess and exempt consumer direction and family caregivers.   We will also expect help with improved access to quality complex rehab equipment (power wheelchairs) including accountability for repairs.

While Colorado definitely went blue, this does not mean that CCDC will stop working with our Republican allies.   We have always been and always will be a bipartisan organization.  Our issues cross both parties.  Disability does not discriminate.

CCDC was very proud of the VERY STRONG voter turnout in the disability community.   Approximately 90% of our members had already voted before Monday and we are sure the rest voted Monday or Tuesday.     Voting is the first step of realizing NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US.

I Voted — It was Easy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Walker Stapleton’s Letter to CCDC 10-29-2018

Walker Stapleton's Campaign Logo, it reads: "Stapleton Sias for Colorado"
Walker Stapleton’s Campaign Logo, it reads: “Stapleton Sias for Colorado”

If I have the privilege of becoming Colorado’s next Governor, I am excited at the opportunity to work with great organizations such as the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC). This group gives a voice to Colorado’s disabled community that far too often has been ignored or neglected in public policy discussions. My administration will look to bring a broad swathe of stakeholder groups to the table when determining our priorities and I look forward to working with CCDC to implement policies that will protect and promote the disabled community.

This means crafting policies that allows folks in the disabled community to work without losing their benefits and working on programs to ensure access to healthcare and housing. As a society, we must create an environment that allows all people to pursue their own American dream and I look forward to working with CCDC to make this a reality for all Coloradans with disabilities.

 

Original PDF:

Lisa Duran Speaks at the 2018 ADA Access Awards – The Highlights

Lisa Duran headshot
Lisa Duran

(Please do not reproduce without explicit permission of Lisa Duran. Copyright © 2018 Lisa Duran All rights reserved.)

Good afternoon everyone.

Thank you, Julie, for your introduction, and for the amazing work that you and everyone at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition does.

I am honored by the invitation to speak with you today. The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is such a bright light in the struggle for justice and I am glad to participate in this celebration of their work and to pitch in to lend my own support.

Congratulations to Allison, Peter, Tim and Joe for your awards. It was inspiring to be able to hear your stories.

I have been an organizer and activist since 1979, but recently, I worked for 28 years in the immigrant rights movement, as director of Colorado’s first immigrant-led immigrant rights organization and as a co-founder of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, CIRC. I now work with organizations to build effective practices that are centered in the lives and experiences of their participants, that can learn from their participants, that can have actual relationships with their participants.

Context

Ending 2nd year of a Presidential administration that has shaken me.

Divisions fanned – we have a President who cannot seem to find it within himself to condemn neo-Nazi violence on unarmed people, who launched his campaign with the most blatant racist attack on Mexican immigrants, and who appears to admire dictators and strongmen around the world.

Inequality is growing in the U.S. We are now in the 30th percentile for equality – that means 70% of the world’s nations have a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources than this nation.

Institutions have reached their limits in problem solving. In many cases, they have become part of the problem. Accepting models of professionalism that commodify people and rigidify hierarchy.

I speak to you today as a fellow midwife in the struggle for justice, as someone inspired by the vision and the power of CCDC’s approach.

I say midwife advisedly, because I don’t believe we are going to create justice by defeating our enemies, vanquishing our opponents — although I fought for that for many years. I believe we are going to create justice—not just victories, but justice—by creating deeper and stronger communities, where everyone is included, everyone thrives, everyone is honored for who they are and their unique gifts. We have to bring this kind of community into being and then nurture it, support it, commit to it, help it have a long life.

We have to grow into our work as community creators, because the vicious attacks on the humanity of immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQI folks, people of color, women, men, children, eco-systems and the planet require us to see beyond what is right in front of us to the future we want to build together. Everyone has a role to play in this, and everyone is needed to do this, but sometimes we don’t recognize that.

CCDC does the hard work of visioning the future and ways to get there, offering inclusion to everyone, creating amazing partnerships and then putting their feet on the path and bringing us along with them. They are deep in the policy and community care weeds and high up at 10,000 feet.

CCDC has much to teach us. It is because of work like theirs and others all across this country that I have more hope than I’ve had in a long time. My hope is based on many things, but today I’d like to explore with you three reasons that CCDC brings me hope and why their work is something everyone in the struggle for justice can learn from.

1) The first is that CCDC is creative and courageous in its work, engaging in transformative organizing that is guided by the people directly impacted .

2) The second is that CCDC is a microcosm of the social justice movement and they see the ways that issues and identities intersect. They pull us to think about our work in inclusive and diverse ways.
And

3) The last and most important is that if our democracy is to survive and our nation live up to its potential, it is precisely the value of NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US – EVER that needs to guide us.

TRANSFORMATIVE ORGANIZING

Clearly seeing what is and crafting new ways of challenging seemingly hopeless realities by refusing to accept skewed power dynamics and involving the people directly affected in effective and heartening ways. CCDC builds community as it engages in systems change. Too often we work to make change by adopting the ways of the system that have worked to destroy our community. For me to win, you have to lose in this binary party system.

Communities are transformed as as individuals are transformed. When individuals are transformed, policies are transformed.

We have to work not for what we can win, but what we need and want. If we limit ourselves to what we can win, we are doomed. Our work will be to achieve something that is not really what the community wants. It will wear us out, dishearten us. Working for meaningful transformation of our communities and ourselves gives us life, because we see the short term struggles, victories and losses as important steps on the way to something we really want and need.

We can win by losing well, so that even if we don’t get the policy we were fighting for, the articulation of our true, heartfelt values and the bold visions of justice to achieve them give us strength and hope and build our movement, make us stronger.

But if people have been shoved to the margins, then visioning together to help each other see the possibilities is critical. And this requires relationship.

I call this transformative organizing. And there is very good news in this kind of work. It requires that we be transformed as we do this work. In order for us to hold the space for change to happen, we have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This requires self-awareness, vulnerability, real relationship with each other. It requires that healing be a part of our vision for change. Because how many of us have been traumatized by the violence, the objectification, being told that we are not worthy of full participation in society. How many of us have believed that?

DEMOCRACY AND CHANGE NEEDS

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US
The last and most important idea is that CCDC’s work embodies the statement “NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US – EVER.” If our democracy is to survive, it is precisely this kind of value that we need to live.

We need to follow CCDC’s example – they have always involved those directly affected in all aspects of decision-making
Governance
Staff
Public face
Policy decisions
CCDC just finished 11-stop Statewide Listening Tour

Late capitalism is very scary, but community is the antidote. We don’t need hope, we need courage to face together what is around us and to build solutions that leave no one behind.

People with lived experience are the experts in resolving issues and building the kinds of communities in which everyone thrives.

Centering people and their experiences is different from depending on programs and agencies for solutions. Programs and agencies usually tell the community what they need, based on careful studies and data. Centering people means we begin with their lived experience as guidance for offering services, developing policies, and creating the communities we want to live in.

Centering people literally upends the traditional way of providing services or even advocacy, because we work differently when we are accountable to those who are directly impacted. We work more slowly, we check back, we learn together what the community needs and how we can work together to achieve that.

Conclusion

Everyone has gifts.

Relationships build a community.

Leaders are those who bring others into active community.

People care and will act when it is important to them, but we have to listen to know what that is.

Our job in this time is to find the right questions to ask each other:

Who are you?
What is your story?
What do you love?
What do you care about enough to act?
What kind of a community would you love to raise your children in?

Asking these questions, we can build the answers together and create the kinds of communities we need and deserve. Thank you very much for allowing me to speak with you and thank you for all the work you do.

Will Voting to Retain a Judge Affect My Civil Rights as a Person with a Disability?

Pictured here is CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director, Kevin Williams, dropping his ballot into his local ballot drop box.
Picture here is an example of one page of a ballot that shows the section about retaining judges.
Pictured here is an example of one page of a ballot that shows the section about retaining judges, obtained from ColoradoPolitics.com.

If you haven’t voted yet, and you know who you are, you better do so and do it FAST!

During each election, I get asked “Kevin, which of these judges should I vote to retain?” The truth is these questions don’t really affect what CCDC Civil Rights lawyers do. Here’s why: the judges on your ballot are not Federal judges. We practice in Federal Court. State and other judges are appointed by the governor for certain periods of time. What you see on your ballot is the question of whether that judge should be retained.

The ADA, Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and most other disability rights acts that we enforce are federal laws. All Federal judges (District Court, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court) are nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. I have explained this process in several blogs before. For example, see Judges! Hoo! What are They Good For? Absolutely Something. I have also explained why it is so important when you are voting for the President and for your senators to consider your civil rights. There are no U.S. senators to vote for on this ballot; you probably do have U.S. Representatives on your ballot. You definitely want to support those candidates who support disability rights. I simply want to make the point that U.S. Representatives are not involved in the confirmation process of federal judges, only U.S. Senators.

Some ways to find information regarding State Court judges are: (1) review the Blue Book that should have been mailed to you or log on to the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation  – this is a good starting point; (2) get on the internet – there is a lot of useful information put out by organizations that may have a viewpoint regarding whether or not State Court judges should be retained; (3) if you are aware of lawyers who do practice in State Courts, contact them and get their advice. There are many ways to research how a judge has ruled on cases. This information is easily accessible on the internet and other sources.

It is possible to bring a disability civil rights case in State Court under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. If so, it might be important to find out how the judges on your ballot have ruled on such cases in the past. Try searching on the name of the judge and “disability” and “civil rights.” However, there are very few published disability rights cases that have been decided by State Court judges. I should also make clear that you can file a disability rights lawsuit in federal court under the ADA or other federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities, but the defendant can remove the case to federal court. They usually do that. It is a tactical advantage because it slows the case down. That is why it doesn’t really make sense to file a federal court lawsuit in state court.

Remember, you can always just leave the box blank if you do not have an opinion on the judge to be retained. Your ballot will still count. And there are many important issues and candidates on your ballot you should vote for. See the CCDC 2018 Ballot Guide.

-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

 

Disability Community Expectations of Our Next Governor

CCDC asked both campaigns if they wanted to send a message directly to our members. We got the attached repsonse from Walker Stapleton. “With 57.3% of Coloradoans with Disabilities Out of Work, Polis Discusses Job Prospects

We thank both campaigns for considering disability issues and urge our members to research positions of both campaigns and vote for the candidate you think will best.

Governance:

  • Commitment to have representatives from the disability community throughout the transition team.
  • Commitment to quarterly meetings with disability community leaders.
  • Commit to a process to have ear of Governor when agency staff are obstructive.  This requires understanding that we do understand the laws that govern our programs.
  • Civil Rights Division will become disability friendly and be trained on disability rights law.
  • Boards and Commissions will actively work with our community.  This includes
      • allow us to choose our representatives where we have statutory right to a seat (absent a legitimate reason to decline),
      • prioritize people with lived experience,
      • quarterly meetings to discuss what positions are coming due so we can find appropriate candidates

Employment Opportunities:

  • Make Colorado a model employer of people with disabilities
    • Specific outreach
    • Establish a preference for qualified individuals
    • Establish disability affinity group among state employees and allow them to ally with advocates.
    • Review of job descriptions and accommodation needs and how that happens
  • Extend SSDI Trial Work Period concept to state programs (Section 8, Medicaid, etc)
  • Extend Medicaid buy-in programs beyond age 65 and allow for breaks in employment.  Currently people with disabilities that require daily care have to stop working and impoverish themselves if they live to age 65 in order to continue receiving supports such as daily home care to get out of bed, shower, etc. This gives no incentive or ability to save for retirement and will leave most people in a position of losing their homes.
  • Continue to fix The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) which receives significant federal funds to help people with disabilities obtain meaningful careers and jobs.
  • Assure equal funding for transit in all transportation funding.

Access to Community Based Services and Supports

  • Active functioning Olmstead plan that touches all of state government
  • Community First Choice will be priority in Colorado
  • Increase participant direction options and allow for all Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) services in all waivers and explore for certain state plan benefits.
  • Equalize wages with agency based care
  • No direct care staff ever is paid less than $15 an hour at bare minimum.  Redefine what is skilled and unskilled and reform rates accordingly.
  • Commitment to improve the health facilities unit of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to act as true consumer advocate.

Asset and Earning increases

  • Increase Medicaid LTSS asset limit from $2,000 (set in 1982) to at least $10,000
  • Allow people who acquire disabilities at young age to save unlimited amount for children’s college and to leave a home up to a certain value to them, even if they live past age 55.  (Difference between helping young people with disabilities escape poverty and making Medicaid an inheritance protection program)
  • Allow Medicaid buy-in clients to continue working as long as they want (currently they have to stop at age 65 despite retirement not occurring until age 67) and to keep assets accumulated while working when they retire. (see below for fixing the age 65 cut off)
  • Use all federally allowable options to liberalize food stamps.
  • Continue reforms to make Aid to the Needy Disabled less draconian.

Housing:

  • Require new housing be at least visitable
  • State based vouchers
  • Stronger fair housing protections and enforcement (see Civil Rights Division)
  • Keep homestead exemption for low-income seniors and consider expanding to people on fixed income affected by gentrification.

Join the week of action opposing the public charge rule! [Corrected Date]

Center for Public Representation, Logo
Center for Public Representation, Logo

The public charge rule will discriminate against immigrants with disabilities and their families trying to enter the U.S. (get a visa) or get a green card (become a permanent resident).  In collaboration with the disability community,  Protecting Immigrant Families will focus this week on Health, Aging, and Disability in the broader campaign to unite public opposition and stop this rule.  We have a lot of resources to help you learn more about the rule, spread the word, and (most importantly) submit comments:

  • We have created 2 new resources to help you learn more about the public charge rule and what it means for people with disabilities:  a grassroots explainer and a more detailed info sheet.
  • We have worked with the Arc of the United States to create a link to help you comment on the rule.  Remember to individualize the comments about why you care about the rule and how you or someone you know will be impacted.
  • Protecting Immigrant Families has created this Social Media Toolkit to help you spread the word and encourage friends and family to comment on the rule.
  • Join us and other disability advocates on twitter on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 2pm EST to #ProtectFamilies and help get the word out.

It is critical that the disability community speaks out against this devastating rule before the public comment period closes on December 10th. 

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

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

A free (for now) shuttle service is launching between Cherry Creek, Cap Hill and Civic Center – Denverite, the Denver site

New Shuttle service in Denver. According to reporting in Denverite “Chariot is like a bus but also like a Lyft but also it’s a van. It works like this: Riders reserve a seat on the 14-passenger car through an app (like Lyft), but it will only pick-up and drop-off at predetermined stops (like a bus).” (Emphasis added.)  This sounds like another interesting Denver transportation option. See also New ride-share Chariot company launches in Denver, free for first six months.

However, there are several questions raised by CCDC? Will it be accessible to people with disabilities. Photo shows CCDC Transportation Advocate Jamie Lewis boarding one of the vehicles. Are all of the vehicles accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs? Why or why not? If not, does the Chariot Service provide “equivalent facilitation” for individuals who use wheelchairs? How would a person who uses a wheelchair know ahead of time how to go about reserving an accessible vehicle? Does the app inform individuals who use wheelchairs how to go about reserving an accessible vehicle? Interesting questions for a City that is supposed to be “one of the most accessible in the country.” How about we consider accessibility for all when creating new transportation services, buildings, housing, etc.?

Under the ADA,

No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of specified public transportation services provided by a private entity that is primarily engaged in the business of transporting people and whose operations affect commerce.

42 U.S.C. § 12184 (a). And, discrimination includes

the purchase or lease by such entity of a new vehicle (other than an automobile, a van with a seating capacity of less than 8 passengers, including the driver, . . .  which is to be used to provide specified public transportation . . . that is not readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs; except that the new vehicle need not be readily accessible to and usable by such individuals if the new vehicle is to be used solely in a demand responsive system and if the entity can demonstrate that such system, when viewed in its entirety, provides a level of service to such individuals equivalent to the level of service provided to the general public[.]

42 U.S.C. § 12184(b)(3)(emphasis added).

CCDC always looks forward to new, convenient available methods of transportation in Denver that include people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, especially those that are equally accessible with respect to methods of reserving that transportation. Transportation options are really limited for people who use wheelchairs. Uber and Lyft and private taxis are not accessible. Getting an accessible cab is often next to impossible.

Welcome, Chariot! We look forward to the new, temporarily free service available on an equal basis to everyone.

 

CCDC in the News: Denver dad of 8-year-old he calls ‘a danger to the community’ getting help from health care company Father: ‘Beacon is changing its tune.’

Channel 7 News cover story about CCDC helping once again: Julie Reiskin, CCDC Executive Director, quoted. 


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

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

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