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Community Foundation, Boulder County: GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION

Community Foundation -Boulder Logo
Community Foundation -Boulder Logo

 

Advocating for disability rights, Jose at the State Capitol in 2018
Advocating for disability rights, Jose at the State Capitol in 2018

Advocating for disability rights, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) – a grantee of your Community Foundation – advances social justice for people with all types of disabilities.

“What do we mean by ‘cross-disability?’” says Executive Director Julie Reiskin. “We believe that people with different types of disability have more in common than we think. So rather than focusing on a single disability, we work with individuals, service providers, businesses, and government agencies to ensure that people with disabilities have equal rights and equal access – regardless of what their individual disabilities may be.”
Put another way, according to the CCDC website – from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and autism, to people with brain injuries, people with mental illness, and those who are blind or deaf, and more – “our arms, our hearts, and our services are open wide. We know those of us with disabilities have a lot to offer.”

 

Julie Reiskin, advancing social justice for people with all types of disabilities.
Julie Reiskin, advancing social justice for people with all types of disabilities.
“As a social justice organization, our efforts are broadly-based,” continues Julie, also noting that the CCDC is a member of OneStrongVoice.org, a statewide collaboration among advocates to coordinate messaging around disability issues, from quality and choice to data and care coordination. “Our work is organized by the way our government works – the three branches of government – and we strongly adhere to the idea ‘nothing about us, without us.’”
Indeed, the CCDC is the go-to organization for people with all types of disabilities who need assistance advocating for themselves and others. CCDC is also the go-to organization for many Colorado policymakers who seek to involve the disability community, and who need accurate information or assistance with outreach. “At the state level, we work to create good laws…and stop the bad ones. And we work to enforce laws and policies, also through outreach and education,” Julie explains. “On the federal level, we’ve done a lot of work around saving Medicaid.”
Why Medicaid? “Isn’t that the […] program that has no good doctors, where you have to wait forever to get anything done? Isn’t that a program with endless red tape?” Julie asks hypothetically in a CCDC blog post. “Because without Medicaid, people with disabilities on Medicare are denied necessary services. They cannot get a wheelchair that works outdoors, because Medicare only covers the kind of wheelchair needed for use in the home.”
Meanwhile, a few ways in which the CCDC helps people with disabilities to help themselves include:
  • access to healthcare – the CCDC helps identify what programs individuals may qualify for;
  • reasonable accommodation to access services or at a job – the CCDC provides information about individuals’ rights;
  • helping eyewitnesses understand whether a law or rule was broken, and what can be done to solve a problem; and
  • referrals to government agencies for individuals who are denied access to services or facilities in violation of the ADA.
Additionally, “When you want to become active on behalf of the disability community, we can provide training and help you find out what type of work feeds your passion.”
Julie and Lisa Duran with Puppy 10-3-18
Julie and Lisa Duran with Puppy 10-3-18
“We do a lot of coalition work, bringing people together,” says Julie of the membership organization. “None of us can do this work alone.” Membership is free, and is open to people with disabilities and their allies. Visit the CCDC website for more information, and to join!
Joe Beaver 2018 Gang of 19 Tribute at the State Capitol
Joe Beaver 2018 Gang of 19 Tribute at the State Capitol

Carrie Ann Lucas, Champion for Disabled Parents, Dies at 47

Carrie Ann Lucas, second from left, in 2018 in Windsor, Colo., with her children, from left, Asiza, Heather, Adrianne and Anthony. Ms. Lucas fought for the rights of the disabled, especially those who are parents.
Carrie Ann Lucas, second from left, in 2018 in Windsor, Colo., with her children, from left, Asiza, Heather, Adrianne and Anthony. Ms. Lucas fought for the rights of the disabled, especially those who are parents.

By Katharine Q. Seelye

Feb. 27, 2019

Carrie Ann Lucas, who championed people, especially parents, with disabilities and won a major lawsuit to make Kmart more accessible, died on Sunday in Loveland, Colo. She was 47.

Her sister, Courtney Lucas, said the cause was complications of septic shock.

Ms. Lucas, who lived with a rare form of muscular dystrophy for three decades, was an effective advocate for people with disabilities. A lawyer, she successfully forced several businesses to make their premises more accessible in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

And last year, through her forceful lobbying, she helped change Colorado law to ensure that the disability of a parent or potential guardian could not be the sole basis for denying custody, adoption, foster care or guardianship of a child.

The legislation grew out of her own struggle to adopt her niece, who was in foster care. Ms. Lucas, who used a power wheelchair, breathed through a ventilator, had low vision and minimal hearing, and relied on a feeding tube, went on to adopt a total of four children, all with disabilities.

“We hear things all the time like, ‘How can you be a parent if you can’t throw a football for your son?’ ” she told The Colorado Independent in 2016.

“As disabled people,” she said, “we are always addressing the issue of how society devalues our lives and experiences.”

On Monday, members of both the House and Senate of the Colorado legislature paid tribute to Ms. Lucas and held a moment of silence in her honor. “Carrie Ann Lucas is a testament to doing everything that you can with what you’ve got,” State Senator Julie Gonzales said.

Ms. Lucas’s commitment was evident in her relentless campaign against a measure to allow doctor-assisted suicide (sometimes called “right to die” or “death with dignity”) in Colorado. An active member of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, she appeared at numerous forums to express her outrage at what she saw as the implicit suggestion that people with disabilities had such a low quality of life that their lives were not worth living.

Despite her protestations, voters approved the measure in 2016. Doctor-assisted death is now legal in seven states and the District of Columbia.

It was a rare defeat in a long career of advocacy. Perhaps her most notable legal victory came in a class-action lawsuit against Kmart, to make its stores more accessible.

Ms. Lucas was the lead plaintiff in that suit, filed in 1999, and in a settlement in 2006, Kmart agreed to pay $13 million in damages to shoppers — the largest payout in a disabilities case at the time — and to bring its 1,400 stores into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Kmart agreed to spend as much as $70 million over eight years to do so.

Carrie Ann Lucas was born on Nov. 18, 1971, in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Her mother, LaVerne (Rupert) Lucas, was a sales manager; her father, Philip Emory Lucas, served in the Marine Corps for 20 years and was stationed at the base there. When he retired, the family moved to Windsor, Colo., where he was an appliance repair technician.

Carrie Ann graduated from high school in Windsor and went to Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., graduating in 1994 with a double major in education and sports medicine.

While in high school, she began to lose muscle strength, and by age 17 she was walking with braces. She was in a wheelchair by her early 20s.

Still, she went overseas. She taught middle school science for two years in Saipan, part of the Northern Marianas in the Western Pacific. Her goal was to become a minister, and when she returned to Colorado she earned a master of divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver in 1999.

As her health deteriorated, her sister said, she became involved with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, which works for equal rights for people with any kind of disability. She investigated and monitored disability rights cases there.

At the same time, she sought to adopt her niece, Heather, then 9, the disabled daughter of her half brother, Eric Gover, whose family, in Tennessee, was unable to care for her. But because of her own disabilities, Ms. Lucas ran into resistance.

She fought the system and, with the help of a court-appointed special advocate, was able to adopt Heather. The experience inspired her to make sure that the same thing would not happen in Colorado.

Driven by the prejudice she saw against parents with disabilities, Ms. Lucas enrolled at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, where she received a full scholarship. She graduated in 2005 and went on to adopt three more children, Asiza, Adrianne and Anthony, all of whom have disabilities.

Ms. Lucas was executive director of Disabled Parents Rights and served on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. In 2017, she ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Windsor City Council.

She was among several people with disabilities who were arrested in 2017 on charges of trespassing after a 58-hour sit-in at the Denver office of Senator Cory Gardner. They were protesting the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have reduced Medicaid funding and eliminated services that make it possible for people with disabilities to live independently.

In addition to her sister, her half brother and her children, Ms. Lucas is survived by her parents and her partner, Dr. Kimberley Jackson. Her half sister, Kelli Mann, died in 2017.

For the last several years, Ms. Lucas had been writing a blog, DisabilityPride.com, which provided an unvarnished view of her life.

One of her final entries, the day after Christmas, described her fear of what would happen to her children, now in their late teens and 20s, when she was gone. She said she hoped that she had given them “the tools to thrive if given appropriate supports.” But, she added, she was terrified that they would be separated and lose contact with one another.

“My kids are all adopted and lost their first family,” she wrote. “I desperately don’t want them to lose this family too.”

To Read the Original Article:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/obituaries/carrie-ann-lucas-dead.html

Colorado Medical Exemption Program Updates

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

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

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

Xcel customers

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

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

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

Black Hills 

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

Chronic Care Collaborative web page

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

Disability Community Loses one of our Rock Stars

The disability community lost one of it’s fiercest advocates on 2/24/19.  Carrie Ann Lucas, a disability rights attorney who pioneered representation for parents with disabilities, died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death.  She was 47 years old.

Carrie Ann Lucas is known around the state and the country for her strong advocacy.   

Carrie Ann grew up in Windsor, Colorado and had several careers including being a teacher, ordained minister and legal assistant before becoming an attorney.  Carrie graduated from Whitworth College in 1994, traveled and taught in Saipan, and then returned to the states to attend the Iliff School of Theology. She received a Master’s of Divinity with Justice and Peace Concentration from Iliff in 1999, but during her time there, became increasingly involved in disability advocacy.  After she graduated, she started working as an advocate and later legal assistant for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, investigating, preparing, and monitoring disability rights cases and providing informal advocacy on a wide range of topics.  While there, she was granted a full scholarship as a Chancellor’s Scholar at the University of Denver School of Law.

Following her graduation from law school in 2005, she was awarded a prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship to create a program to combat discrimination that impacts parenting for parents with disabilities.  This program, initially started within the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, spun off to be Disabled Parents Rights, one of the only organizations in the country devoted to this issue.  She also became a national expert and trainer on the rights of parents with disabilities and, through her legal advocacy, secured decisions upholding and promoting those rights here in Colorado.  Most recently she was recruited by the Colorado Office of Respondent Parents Counsel to help set up a program to train other lawyers around the state to replicate the sort of impact she was making.  

In addition to these professional activities, Ms. Lucas was an advocate with the disability rights groups ADAPT and Not Dead Yet, speaking, teaching, writing, testifying, and protesting on disability justice and the rights of people with disabilities to healthcare and respect.  She was also a talented photographer and cook. Carrie Ann was an activist at heart. She graduated from EMERGE, ran for Windsor City Council in 2017, and was planning on additional political activity.  She was chair of Colorado Democrats with Disabilities for the past several years. She was a member of the ADAPT group that protested in Cory Gardner’s office and got arrested to help save the Affordable Care Act in 2017, particularly Medicaid.    She served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.   She was active with Not Dead Yet and fought hard against physician assisted suicide and the notion that life with a disability is not worth living.  She demonstrated every day how amazing life with a disability can be. She was given the Intersectionality Award from The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center in 2016.  She was a leader in passing HB 18-1104 which changed Colorado law to make sure that disability was no longer a reason to remove a child from a parental home. There is much, much more.

Carrie became a lawyer to practice family law after lived experience of discrimination against parents with disabilities firsthand.   In 1998 fostered and later adopted her oldest daughter, Heather Lucas. Heather has significant developmental disabilities and was languishing in another state.   She fostered and was preparing to adopt a second child, but that was disrupted due to prejudice against parents with disabilities. Where most people might be upset and feel helpless, Carrie Ann was furious and went to law school to represent parents with disabilities.    

Carrie adopted three more children over the years, Adrianne Lucas, Azisa Lucas and Anthony Lucas.   All of her accomplishments centered on her dedication to her children and her role as a mother. All of her children have significant disabilities and Carrie Ann always made sure that they were not only educated and included in their communities, but that they were loved, respected, and supported in their individual hopes and dreams.    

Carrie had a severe neuromuscular disease, a rare form of muscular dystrophy.  She relied on a power wheelchair, and had used a ventilator for years. However, her death was premature and caused by inappropriate and brutal cost containment procedures of an insurance company.  Because Carrie Ann worked for the state, she had use state insurance which was primary ahead of her Medicare and Medicaid. In January of 2018 she got a cold which turned into a trach and lung infection.  Her insurance company UnitedHealthcare, refused to pay for the one specific inhaled antibiotic that she really needed. She had to take a less effective drug and had a bad reaction to that drug. This created a cascade of problems, loss of function (including her speech).  United Healthcare’s attempt to save $2,000 cost over $1 million in health care costs over the past year. This includes numerous hospitalizations, always involving the Intensive Care Unit which is par for the course for ventilator users.

Carrie Ann had hoped to spend a lot of time in 2019 using her tragedy to work to fix our broken health care system.   Her blog www.disabilitypride.com provides more details.   For all intents and purposes a shero of our community was murdered in the name of cost containment.  This is why we MUST fight these measures with all we have. Insurance companies and government programs must not be allowed to deny people what they need.  Just last month she was having to ration her insulin for her type 1 diabetes because of the same insurance company and how impossible it is to work between private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid.  This is a great example of why people with disabilities should not be forced into insurance or health plans and why we need Medicaid as the primary health delivery system for this country.

In addition to her four children, Carrie Ann is survived by her sister Courtney Lucas, her parents Lee and Phil Lucas, her nephews Gavin and CJ Lucas, Gavin’s wife Kathleen and their daughter Emily.  She is also survived by her partner Dr. Kimberley Jackson, a CCDC Board member and activist in the disability community. She will be missed by a wide circle of friends and colleagues throughout the country.  

Why CCDC opposes the “Special Education Opportunity Scholarship”

HB19-1151

Special Education Opportunity Scholarship

The bill creates a Colorado Special Education Opportunity Scholarship Program to provide scholarships to parents of eligible students with multiple disabilities to use in purchasing services from an education provider or other educational services as selected by the parent.

Although this bill uses the word scholarship it is essentially a voucher program. Students cannot be enrolled in their public school and the student must be identified as having a multiple disability in order to be eligible for this money.  Students would be exempt from the compulsory attendance requirement by maintaining eligibility as a student enrolled in a private school or a nonpublic home based educational program. The scholarship or voucher would be used for an approved private school or an approved private online program. Parents could also use the money for materials and tutoring services, academic enrichment services and approved providers such as Speech and Language, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Behavioral Therapist, etc.  The amount the eligible student receives in scholarship is the amount of the statewide per pupil revenues plus the amount of per pupil special education funding. This scholarship would be administered by a scholarship facilitator and would be paid from the money deposited into the student’s account. The State Board would contract with a scholarship facilitator and they would be paid up to 10 percent of the amount of money the student receives in scholarship.

Students that opt out of public school education often will return to public schools with greater gaps in achievement. Finding qualified instructors or therapists for students with multiple disabilities can be challenging.  Parents and school districts need to work together in resolving their differences in order for students to receive appropriate instruction and services. Hopefully, districts will not see this scholarship program as a way for students with multiple disabilities to withdraw from public schools and be served at home or in private schools, when conflict arises.

The amount of money is estimated for a state average PPR of $8,450.45.

The Exceptional Children in Education Act (ECEA) funding is a part of that calculation. The preliminary/estimated Tier A ECEA funding is $1,250.oo per student and the average Tier B ECEA funding is $1,888.00 per student. The Scholarship Facilitator would take up to 10% of the total amount for administration and monitoring. If you look at the responsibilities of the Scholarship Facilitator and the amount they would get paid, I am not sure they would be fairly compensated by the 10% of the scholarship amount.  Parents would not have a lot of money to contract with approved providers, buy materials and supplies. Providing a private school education for a student with multiple disabilities would cost more than the scholarship will provide.

This bill would put a burden on families of students with multiple disabilities especially in families where both parents are working. Researching needs of students and  appropriate approved providers would be time consuming. Students who were homeschooled would miss out on the social aspect of going to school and learning to live in the community.  

Another area of concern would be transitioning students, 18 to 21 years of age from school to the community.  Public Schools have transition services in place and have built relationships in the community to assist students with employment and training.

BREAKING NEWS: Colorado becomes the second state to secure its entire Congressional Delegation as DIA Cosponsors in the 116th Congress!

ADAPT and Disability Rights Community Praise Colorado for Becoming the Second State to Have Entire Delegation as Cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act (S117/HR555)

Colorado has become the second state to have their entire Congressional delegation cosponsor the Disability Integration Act only 21 days since introduction of the bill on January 15, 2019.

The Disability Integration Act is a bill that affirms the right of people with disabilities and seniors to live in freedom, rather than be forced into unwanted institutionalization. It would require states and insurance providers who pay for institutional placement to also offer long term services and supports in the community.

“We know that it will take members of Congress from both side of the aisle to make DIA the law of the land,” said Dawn Russell, an organizer with Atlantis ADAPT in Denver, Colorado. “We want to thank every member of Colorado’s delegation for supporting the rights of disabled people to live in freedom, especially Senator Gardner who was the first Republican on the Senate bill.”

DIA has widespread support from over 730 organizations from across the nation. At the DIA introduction event, AARP announced their support for the bill, illustrating support from the aging community and the importance of seniors being able to age in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing facilities as they grow older.

“Individuals with disabilities should have the right to live in the setting that best fits their needs and allows them to live as independently as possible in their community” said Senator Gardner, the Republican lead in the US Senate. “After hearing first-hand from the ADAPT community in Colorado, I was proud to be the first Senate Republican to champion this critical legislation that will help ensure individuals living with disabilities are provided the flexibility to live how they choose.”

Colorado joins Vermont on the growing list of states that have their entire delegation as cosponsors of DIA. “We were thrilled that all of our members of Congress from Vermont were original cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act this session, and we are excited to see more states join us!” said Sarah Launderville, the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living. “I think this really demonstrates the importance of ensuring that disabled and elderly Americans can live in the community.”

ADAPT and the broader Disability Community have called upon the House of Representatives to pass DIA before July 26th of this year, which will also mark the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Short Link:
https://bit.ly/2SdlvRW

Full link:
https://adapt.org/press-release-adapt-and-disability-rights-community-praise-colorado-for-becoming-the-second-state-to-have-entire-delegation-as-cosponsors-of-the-disability-integration-act-s117-hr555/

RTD May 2019 Proposed Service Changes

The proposed changes are attached.  The proposals include a mix of service adjustments.  Notable proposals include:

  • Route 15 – East Colfax: relieve passenger overloads by adding selected trips between 9:00am and 1:00pm.
  • Route 33 – Platte Valley: discontinue service due to low ridership.
  • Free Metro Ride – 18th-19th Street: due to lower ridership reduce frequency from 15 trips per hour to 8 trips per hour.
  • W – Line Light Rail: reduce service between Federal Center Station and Jeffco Government Center/Golden Station on Saturdays to every 30 minutes.
  • Southeast Rail Extension: extend the Southeast Rail corridor (E-, F- and R-Lines) from Lincoln Station to RidgeGate Station in Lone Tree.

Download the Flyer, if you have any questions, please send an email to

Jaime Lewis

jlewis@ccdconline.net

A Pleasant Reflection on Martin Luther King Day. NOT A CHANCE! There is no time for that.

Intersectionality. Social Movements. The Media. Dr. King was recorded, filmed and/or broadcasted saying the following, “We have no moral choice but to continue the struggle, not just for Black Americans, but for all Americans.” “The time is always right to do right;” “We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around;” “We are here to say, “We are not afraid;’” “You have to create a crisis so the power structures are forced to answer;” “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

By now, you all know that CCDC does not close down on Martin Luther King Day. We believe strongly that it would be the wrong way to pay tribute to this great leader for a civil rights organization to close its operations when civil rights is our cause, our work, and our passion! We also believe in the intersectionality of all social movements.

Dr. King stood for and died for social justice for all. Yes, I mean ALL. Let us not honor his short life with pleasant niceties. Our country, our state, our local communities and each one of us are in crisis: The country’s time-clock  is being turned backward: Some want a wall to keep people seeking asylum out (sure, they tell it another way), but the yet-to-be explained wall will keep out people who, we are told on TV are “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” not asylum-seekers.

BORING HISTORY: After I became a quadriplegic after I was already in college, I was trying to figure out a way to make a living so I could afford the things I needed as a person with a disability who needed home healthcare. The year was 1986. The ADA had not yet passed. I had never heard of a “disability rights movement.” I was 19. I lived in South Carolina at the time. I had gone back to college in South Carolina. I did so through self-advocacy, persistence, resistance and fighting all the way. I just didn’t know that I didn’t have to go it alone. I moved to Denver, Colorado in 1990. Something called the “Americans with Disabilities Act” passed in 1990. I came to the Denver area from South Carolina to do my rehab at Craig Hospital in 1986 after my injury. I returned to South Carolina the same year. I had Medicaid. Home healthcare was a joke. Accessibility did not exist. And on and on. I came to Craig again in 1989 to deal with surgery for a skin sore and surgery on my arm to try to improve my functional skills. As a result of that second surgery, my stay was extended. I lived in the outpatient apartments and used home healthcare provided by a Denver agency. I also got to tour Denver. I was astonished that home healthcare services were fantastic. I remember being so afraid of home healthcare when I was 1500 miles from my then home. I was also amazed by the accessibility of the city. This was a year before the passage of the ADA! Then and there I decided to move to Denver. A quadriplegic who did not know anybody and did not understand anything about home healthcare services or accessibility. Other than the fact that I wasn’t getting either in South Carolina. I also did not understand very much about the power and necessity of all social justice movements. Wake up, Kevin!

HISTORY MEETS REALITY: Why? Many of you know: Atlantis/ADAPT! Their work, their struggles, their battles with discrimination, their unnecessary pain and suffering, their protests, their arrests, their political and legislative work, their MEDIA COVERAGE and their lives! That was a big part of my answer. I just didn’t know it yet. To those who have fought and died who I never met, to my friends, to my colleagues, to my clients and to those who have always believed, I fell in love with you and my lower affair continues. And I know you now.

Little by little, by dribs and drabs and by the greatest human fortune, I did learn. I didn’t know. I actually was a part of the disability community. I could do something. I was not alone.

During my undergraduate years at CU Denver, I switched my degree to political science. Law School bound. Still thinking about almighty dollar! Gotta save myself from the worries of my very expensive life. Made more expensive by going to work. After all, without all of those Medicaid dollars, the law would not let me go to work. Dumb system. There I was. Like so many: Subsidized housing. On SSDI/SSI. Medicaid only comes with SSI, right? Go to work = No Medicaid = no health insurance! Must pay for it myself: Pre-existing condition. No private health insurance = approximately $50,000 for home healthcare alone. What about all of those medical supplies? Motorized Wheelchairs? Unbelievable number of doctors’ appointments? Hospitalizations? Must lop that off the top of my salary.

So, why didn’t I know about work incentive programs for people with disabilities? It was a well-kept secret.

Clearly, I still wasn’t woke! But I just might be the luckiest person alive.

WOKE KEVIN: I met members of the disability rights community. I learned their stories. Our stories. I still wanted more school though. I still had to pay for my life.

A voracious reader. Before I read documents all day long as I do now (especially stuff by lawyers working for those who oppose us), I read for pleasure and for understanding. I began reading everything I possibly could about the Civil Rights movements, but mostly about Black Civil Rights. Took every class I could possibly take on socially equality, social injustice, social movements, social legislative change. What it means to be a human in America. Parting the Waters remains a favorite book. The series is good as well.

MARTIN LUTHER KING: And others. Dr. King had the answer. Their work, their struggles, their battles with discrimination, their unnecessary pain and suffering, their economic suppression, their educational inferiority, their voter suppression their protests, their arrests, their political and legislative work, their MEDIA COVERAGE and their lives! But the struggle had to continue. (Sounds exactly like what people with disabilities experience, except we come from a different place undoubtedly. MEDIA COVERAGE of the King movement changed the country, the world and us all. It spawned other movements, including the disability rights movement. The “change” that was “gonna come” came, right? Of course not. The other side has always been there. They seem to be back with a vengeance. We know it. We live it. We oppose it. Is it enough? Of course not. What would King say if he had kept going? Was that dream realized?

Take, for example, the need for the Black Lives Matter! Movement. Message to white people: Stop whining! “I worked very hard all my life from humble beginnings to get where I am at. Nobody gave me anything.” Really, white person (I am talking to myself because I happen to be one). Give me a break. Did a wall stop you and your ancestors from coming to this country? (In the case of Black Americans, the answer is clearly no. A slave ship did. One that was completely owned and operated, staffed, etc. by white people.) Did you devote your life to making the world understand the vestiges of slavery and the current state of denial in the face of civil rights laws protecting your rights? Did you not get a job because you were white (okay, a couple of you got lucky on this point in front of courts that were mostly white)? Were you ever hanging from a tree? How about your ancestors? How many of your friends, colleagues and family members are in prison? Do you know what the current proportion of Blacks versus whites is in our prison system? Did you ever get your head and your body cracked and beaten on your way to the police station? Did you ever have to spend many years meeting with innumerable legislators and many presidential administrations convincing the legislature that you needed civil rights protection? Did you ever “take a knee” to demonstrate against police killing people of your race?

Obviously, the list goes on. Dr. King understood. He was at the start, but he had great luck because visual media began burgeoning at the time of (perhaps because of? ) Dr. King’s movement.

This Martin Luther King Day and every day as fast as you can, get off your usual Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else. Get on all media focusing on what the day is about. Or just Google or YouTube to find videos posted below this paragraph. Better yet: follow Dr. King’s advice to do something right NOW! Why are some of us still dreaming? Why are so many of us still not caring? Why are so many of us still opposing? Why is Dr. King’s dream NOT a reality 50 years after his assassination? Why are Black people still being murdered in outrageous numbers and in outrageous circumstances? Why are all of us who are not wealthy (and mostly white) not paying attention? Review video and audio below. Find more. Learn. Share it widely!

The awakening can start right now; it as easy as turning your phone away from our usual timewasting activities and do as I just did, Google or YouTube it (actual footage contains violence and language as it happened; some might find reality offensive; original videos contain captioning—may require clicking CC at bottom right of video):

March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday.” Edmund Pettus Bridge. Dr. King and many (mostly Black) men, women and teenagers cross bridge into Montgomery, Alabama to ensure Black Americans can vote.

April 5, 1977. Protesters with Disabilities occupy Federal Office. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibiting discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by programs, services or activities receiving federal funding, but no regulations defining enforcement of the Act had been promulgated.

July 6, 2016. Philando Castille and Diamond Reynolds. Pulled over for a burned out traffic light. Shot and killed by white police officer (captured on police cam) while his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds uses Facebook video livestream to provide instant coverage of what happened inside the car. Obviously there are more.

August 11, 2017. Charlottesville, Virginia. “White Nationalists” and Black protesters clash over request to remove statute of Robert E. Lee. President Trump finds fault with “both sides.”

June 28, 2017. Protestors with disabilities seeking to prevent loss of Medicaid Arrested at Colorado Senator Cory Gardner’s Denver office after days of protests trespassing because “office neighbor’s complained. Sen. Gardner later moved his office to a much less wheelchair accessible location.

MEDIA attention on protests leads to legislation, maintaining legislation and judicial enforcement of legislation. Or does it? Keeping the dream alive requires all of it. TODAY!

So what will you do in 2019? -Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Dear Governor Polis, About Your Inauguration

“This is so exhausting.”  This quote is from Kelly Tobin, a CCDC member who uses a power chair and has multiple disabilities.  This was her sentiment on a day when we should have been excited about participating in our government.   She was feeling hurt as we all were at being excluded once again –this time from the Polis Inauguration.  

CCDC had asked ahead of time and been assured of full accessibility.  We were told a sign language interpreter would be there and we advertised that.  We were told there would be seating for those with disabilities in need.   We reached almost a month ago and offered help.  We shared specific things to think about to make this inclusive of our community. Our offer to help with accessibility was rebuffed and we were promised accessibility was handled.  I guess we were wrong to believe this representation from their staff.

I had been to other inaugurations, Hickenlooper, Ritter, and Owens.  All of those ceremonies were accessible in that people could show up and listen.  Wheelchair users could see and those with other mobility impairments got seating up close and could get around the area.  Today there were tents, barriers, and cops keeping public members out.   We were blocked as we entered the Capitol area from the Colfax side. We were told there was a public space down the hill on Lincoln Street –we asked about ADA seating and the guard said he knew nothing about it.  One of our members who has a service dog,  wanted to get her dog inside before the cannons went off.  She is very limited in her ability to walk distances safely.  The cops refused to let her in the door of the capitol that was close to us, nor could she walk around the short way but would have to walk all the way around the building.  They said she had to go through security, she was wearing an ID badge and they could have walked her across the cafeteria and had her go through security…but no. 

We went down to the “public” area.  If there was an ADA section we could not see it.  There were barriers on the street so we could not get off of the sidewalk if we wanted to.  We looked at the big screen and saw neither a sign language interpreter nor captioning.  If there was an interpreter it was hidden.

Over the West Steps of the Capitol were large banners that said Colorado for All….I guess that meant Colorado for All except for people with disabilities.

The disability community had sent Governor Elect Polis a letter on 12/13 and asked for a response and an introduction to the new Boards and Commission person before the inauguration.  Is this a sign that asking nicely is not going to work with this Governor?   Good thing we have a strong ADAPT chapter. 

It is always disappointing to be excluded but it is especially gut wrenching when the exclusion is created by someone who screams from the rooftops that they are invested in a Colorado for All.   Is this really for all of us…or just for some?  If this is Colorado for all, then it is important that Governor Polis acknowledges our community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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