“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.”
“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.”
“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!
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