You will not find restaurant reviews on the CCDC blog often, and almost never by me, but today is different. CCDC took the members of our legislative team who were available to lunch today at Pizzability at 250 Steele Street to thank them for their many hours of tireless work this session. They were an admirable team and deserved more than lunch. However, lunch and our undying gratitude are what we can provide. Our amazing community organizer Dawn Howard chose the location.
Like most restaurants in Cherry Creek North, it is physically small. Unlike any other restaurant in that area where I have eaten, I did not feel in the way—even when I was objectively in the way. In any space, when a bunch of us come in at the busy hour we can be..well…in the way. It only takes a couple of wheelchairs, never mind some canes, walkers, dogs, and general klutziness to make us seem like we are taking over. When we are doing an action that is exactly what we want, but when we go to eat out, whether individually or in a small group we do not want to feel as if our mere presence is an inconvenience. So today we show up and our presence overwhelms the place both physically and logistically. Yet we are greeted with warmth and genuine pleasure that we are there. When I was objectively in the way blocking an aisle no one bumped into me, no one asked me to move, no one gave me “the look”. No employee rushed to serve me quickly for the purpose of getting me out of the way.
Most of our crew had ordered but there were three of us left when I arrived. The bill for three lunches in Cherry Creek North came to $16. The food was good. Most significant for me is that they had Gelato—I saw that and forgot about pizza. The slices that my colleagues ate looked terrific. They were big, and hot and had many varieties. Salads were an option also and non-alcoholic drinks appeared to be free with the pizza. They had some alcohol for sale as well…soon they will have pairing suggestions.
As you might guess by the name, this is a restaurant that sells mostly pizza and most of the employees are people with disabilities, particularly people who appeared to have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most of the customers eating there today appeared to have disabilities as well.
My personal food tastes are more in line with other places in Cherry Creek North. Earlier this week I had an hour in between meetings in that part of town and went somewhere else. The food I like (and admit it is kind of ridiculous food) is more like an overpriced salad with things like goat cheese, grapes, and cranberries. I had that with unsweetened tea (trying to be good diet wise) and while the food was delicious, and there was much more physical space in this place than at Pizzability, I felt completely in the way the entire time I was there. It was uncomfortable. While no one was rude or even unkind it was my presence was made people uncomfortable. I had to ask several people to move to get to a space to eat. I actually considered getting it to go even though it was raining and cold that day. I am sure the people in this restaurant (staff and customers) would have been relieved had I just taken the food to go. Today, when some of choose to sit outside at the tables (it was probably 60 degrees and felt lovely) they asked repeatedly if we were sure we were comfortable and offered to move things around if we preferred to be inside. The offer was made in a manner that showed respect and that they valued our business.
There were other cool features. The menus are paper and you circle what you wanted and write your name. Accessible for Deaf folks and people that do not speak English, do not read, etc. Some work would be required to make it accessible for blind folks (there is a menu online). There was a “sensory corner” with various objects. Each plate was different and they were painted by artists from the Access Gallery (an art gallery for disabled artists).
There did appear to be someone without a visible disability running things and the way she talked there was a training component for employees. (I learned later on their facebook page that this is indeed a training program)The employees were working hard and seemed happy, and the work is real work that valued employees do in restaurants every day. If part of the goal is to train workers for “integrated” jobs, I am sure that will work. However, some employees may want to stay and be around others with disabilities. Maybe some will become supervisors or trainers. Maybe some will prefer to keep doing the great job they are doing today.
Is this segregated? Maybe? Not sure that it matters because it is a choice. Doing a good job and being paid for work, and continuing to learn and improve at one’s job is what adults do in our society. Other groups have businesses that are primarily run by and serve specific communities. They do not eschew customers from outside groups but they cater to their own communities. This is how disenfranchized communities build economic power. There are “pink pages” advertising gay-owned businesses. There are Latinx and Black Chambers. Why not promote and support more disability-run/disability positive businesses? Non-disabled people can work and eat there but the atmosphere and culture stay disability positive. Just like as a white person I can go to eatery owned, staffed, and patronized mostly by people of color. I am welcome to show up but not to inappropriately take over the culture of the place (as white people often want to do). Communities of color started and continue these businesses because there is an economic and cultural need for spaces that do not have to bend to the dominant culture. That is cultural pride, not involuntary segregation. We need to start understanding the difference.
We need businesses like this in our community..that is by and for our people. Where non-disabled allies are welcomed but where our disability culture and our vibe will stay the dominant feeling. We need to stop defining success by how much we interact with people who do not have disabilities.
I know that I preferred eating lunch in a disability positive environment, among not only my peers/colleagues with disabilities but among other customers and employees with disabilities. I would rather eat in a place where I feel comfortable and welcome than in a place where I am obviously in the way. The next time I happen to have an hour in between meetings in Cherry Creek North, Pizzability will get my business! I encourage you all to do the same. I am sure they will also welcome those of you without disabilities too.
This was a busy session as is typical whenever there is a new administration and many new legislators. Despite some unfortunate partisanship that caused delays, the reading out loud of 2000 page bills, hearings that occurred during a blizzard, and overnight sessions some great work did get done that will benefit the people of Colorado including people with disabilities.
Before talking about the bills, I want to call out the amazing CCDC team that worked at the Capitol this year.
CCDC wants to thank our many partners, in particular the Arc of Colorado, Arc of Aurora, Arc of Adams, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 9-5 Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Senior Lobby, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Common Cause, PASCO, and Accent on Independence Homecare amongst others. We also want to thank Colorado Capitol Watch for a great product that made tracking the bills easier.
Because this was a year with many new legislators and many groups rushing to push through bills that had struggled in years past, many of which were bills we were going to support, CCDC made a deliberate decision to NOT run our own proactive bills this year but to focus on our coalition work, and building relationships with the many new Senators and Representatives. We laid groundwork for policies we want to promote over the next few years while focusing on the many coalition bills and responding to bills that affected our community. We followed 139 bills. This report shares the highlights-not every bill that we worked on during the session.
This is being dubbed the year of the renter. There were many bills that helped renters, along with some that will fund affordable housing.
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF BILLS RELATED TO THE COST OF PRIVATE INSURANCE AND HOSPITALS. PLEASE CHECK OUT THE COLORADO CONSUMER INITIATIVE OR THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR REPORTS ON THOSE BILLS.
Overall it was a good year. There were some disappointments, but there always are—now we have to make sure the bills we like get implemented and make sure people know about these new laws and programs.
CCDC invites you to attend and support our 2019 ADA Access Awards Luncheon, to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. (doors open at 11:30 a.m.) at the United Club in the Broncos Stadium at Mile High. At this event, we will recognize and honor community organizations and individuals who go above and beyond in their advocacy efforts for the disability community and who have done this work with equity in mind. All proceeds from this event benefit the programs of CCDC all year-round.
A board certified emergency physician who has practiced in the Denver metro area after completing his residency at Denver Health Medical Center where he served as chief resident, Dr. Mitchell joined the CCDC volunteer board of directors in 2018. Dr. Mitchell completed medical school at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and was appointed to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society in his third year. Dr. Mitchell has served as the medical director at Parker Adventist hospital for over a decade. Currently serving as the VP of Medical Affairs for DispatchHealth, he has devoted his time to developing clinical treatment guidelines, creating mechanisms to provide high level, acute, and post-acute care in the home in an evidence-based and compliant manner, and educating midlevel providers in home-based acute care medicine. In July of 2017, Dr. Mitchell delivered a TED talk at TEDx Mile High titled, “The ER Housecall for the 21st Century”. We are so appreciative of Dr. Mitchell’s time and acceptance of our invitation to be our keynote speaker in 2019.
Along with the keynote address, CCDC will honor four Coloradans who have made major contributions to advancing social justice for people with all types of disabilities. At this luncheon, CCDC will also pay tribute to Carrie Ann Lucas, a nationally renowned disability rights activist who passed away this past spring.
Sponsorships are available and start at $500 each. To learn more, email this year’s Annual ADA Access Awards Luncheon organizer Lucinda Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 720-994-0313. To RSVP click here.
Event Date: 09/25/2019 – 11:30am – 1:30pm
Event Location: Broncos Stadium at Mile High, United Club Level (inside the stadium), 1701 Bryant Street, Denver, CO 80204
Our special thanks to 2019 Champion Level Sponsors, AOI Home Care and Rocky Mountain Health Plans!
CCDC held a listening tour around the state in 2018. Please find the report here…if you want the exhibits and the presentation used during the tour please email me at email@example.com. We are not posting it because even though the information about “what is happening next” was accurate at the time, it has already changed. We are attaching the handout we gave about how to determine the validity of news sources.
We are still seeking feedback and would love your feedback on this report.
The CCDC Board of Directors is writing/updating our strategic plan. This is the first of several surveys we will have to get members input. If you get this survey via an email from CCDC then you are a member. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5J5PLQW
If you get this survey from another source then you are NOT listed as a member and should join as a member. It is free and you can choose what topics, if any, about which we will contact you. You can join at www.ccdconline.org
Your feedback is important. This survey is about our organizational values. Our current plan summary is attached. stratplansummary
The next survey will be about our VISION.
Thank you for your time.
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.
This testimony was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in support of a rule change that will be heard by the Board on August 3rd in Durango. For information about the board meeting see https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs-boards-committees-collaboration/state-board-human-services
To Human Services Board:
From: Julie Reiskin, Executive Director, CCDC
RE: Support for Aid to Needy Disabled Rule Package
Dear Members of the Human Services Board:
I am writing as the director of the largest statewide, disability-run, disability rights organization in Colorado in full support of the AND rule package…and to encourage you to continue with reforms to better support clients that need this program. Our friends from the Southwest Independent Living Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless will also be testifying and this letter is a supplement to their direct testimony.
Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND) is the program for the poorest of the poor, the most severely disabled with the fewest resources. People on AND are living so far below the poverty level they are not even on the radar. AND was meant to be a bridge between the time one becomes disabled and the time one can get on some sort of permanent disability benefits. It is also meant for those with disabilities that last between 6 and 12 months—making the person unable to work for a long time but not eligible for Social Security. Sadly, for some who are unable to navigate the complicated Social Security process, AND ends up as their only means of support for too long. The disability community, provider organizations, and some state agencies have tried to create programs to help this group of citizens whose disabilities are of a nature that make complying with rules, deadlines and procedures as impossible for them as walking up a flight of stairs is for someone whose legs are paralyzed. Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to fund a support program that serves all in need.
Even when it is a temporary solution, the system still needs to work with an understanding that one is always in a desperate situation to even apply for AND. To be considered one must have NO income, no savings, and no support. It is such as a small amount of money that if people have other options they will take those other options. When someone is waiting for SSI or SSDI and they accept AND the funds have to be paid back when the client receives his or her backpayment. Given that these individuals are already saddled with debt, both formal and informal, people do not sign up for this program when there are other options. Moreover, applying for ANY disability benefit is a humiliating and demoralizing experience, even when everyone involved is kind (which sadly is not always the case). One must tell strangers about extremely personal details, over and over again. One must confront the fact that one cannot do easy tasks that are considered natural for all adults in our society. One has to admit that one cannot support oneself or loved ones (if there are any left). Applying for benefits is one more loss, often part of a cascade of defeat. It is imperative that the Board understand the backdrop against which our fellow citizens are applying. Sensitivity training should include trauma informed care as well as an understanding about grief and loss and the disability process. While disability is NOT a tragedy, the systems that we encounter early in our disability journey do create trauma and find people at their lowest point, when they are still believing that disability is a tragedy.
CCDC strongly supports the following proposed changes for the following reasons:
People have been working on this for a long time, and there has been a lot of engagement in this process. Please pass these rules and continue to work on ways to make the AND benefit easier for those in such desperate need to receive. As a state we are compassionate people and need not make it harder for people at what is often the lowest point of one’s life.
I am willing to answer any questions but my colleagues who will be at the meeting will be in the best position to answer direct questions at the meeting.
Julie Reiskin, LCSW
Dear CCDC Members:
It is time once again for you to submit nominations for our memorial awards. You may use this link . You can only nominate one person per survey, but you can fill out the survey as many times as you want. We have many people for whom awards are named, we do not offer every category every year. We have selected 12 award categories and will give 6 awards on September 17th at 5:00 p.m. at the Lowry Conference Center at 1061 Akron Way.
These awards will be announced on September 01. Anyone is welcome to attend the awards ceremony. We will be putting out an Evite in early September.
These memorial awards generally recognize people currently active in the disability community and are in the memory of those from our community who are no longer with us. Please nominate people, and share the link widely. Nominations will be open until AUGUST 16TH at 8:00 PM. Please nominate deserving community members for these awards and share far and wide.
P.S. This is different than our October 3rd Commnunity Awards Event. The October event is our annual fundraiser and acknowledges people in the broader community. If you want information on that celebration please contact Laura Gabbay, our director of Development and Evaluation, at email@example.com. There is no reason why you cannot attend both celebrations of the great people and great work being done throughout our community.