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.
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.
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.
-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
It is critical that the disability community speaks out against this devastating rule before the public comment period closes on December 10th.
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.
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.