need help

NEED HELP?

Find CCDC programs to help assist in advocating for you or someone you know with a disability.

LEARN MORE
ACTION ALERT

ACTION ALERT

Keep up to date with disability rights activities you care about. Choose a few topics or sign up for all of them!

LEARN MORE
issues

ISSUES

Find the most common issues people with disabilities face and how CCDC can help.

LEARN MORE

Category: Publications

This shows all blogs on this website.

THE BIGGEST CHANGES OFTEN CAN COME FROM SMALL PACKAGES

CCDC mourns the passing of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Julie Reiskin, CCDC Executive Director
Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Image of the US Supreme Court with engraved words Equal Justice Under Law
The United States Supreme Court, showing the engraved phrase “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW”.

There are no appropriate expressions to describe the magnificence of this Supreme Court Justice except to say she got the message. Justice Bader Ginsburg believed strongly in the words engraved on the front of her work home for 27 years, “Equal Justice Under Law.” Words you cannot miss when entering the United States Supreme Court building. Justice Bader Ginsburg believed in equal justice under the law, most notably for women, but, more importantly, for everyone. In her personal opinion and those she authored for the court, Justice Bader Ginsburg understood that “We the People” means all people – not only rich white men who have prevented so many people, different from themselves, from attaining equal justice under the law.

Justice Ginsburg left this world on September 18, 2020, at age 87, after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. She left this country with changes in the law that will be remembered forever; changes that must also be preserved.

For nearly 200 years (1789-1967), the Supreme Court looked something like this:
Mapp v. Ohio (1961) Supreme Court Justices. 9 White Men.
Supreme Court Justices (1961)

There is a reason the Supreme Court looked like it did. It is called “discrimination” – a term and its insidious effects we at CCDC are familiar with, as was Justice Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. “The Notorious RGB.” Justice Ginsburg understood discrimination because she lived it. She graduated as the highest-ranking female student in her class from Cornell University. She then enrolled at Harvard Law School as one of only nine women with approximately 500 men, eventually serving on the Harvard Law Review. At one point the Dean asked all nine women the same question, “Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?” 

Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School when her husband, Marty Ginsburg, a tax lawyer, took a New York City job. At Columbia, she became the first woman to be on two major law reviews: Harvard and Columbia. In 1959, she earned her law degree at Columbia, graduating joint first in her class. 

Achieving such high honors should have led to a great career with a New York City law firm. However, Justice Ginsburg could not find employment. She explained it this way: despite her extraordinary academic achievements, she had three strikes against her: she was (1) a woman; (2) Jewish; and (3) at that time, had a young child. The expected norm in the late 50s and early 60s was for her to be her child’s caretaker. These combined factors meant finding a job with almost any law firm was nearly impossible. In 1960, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, based on her gender, rejected her for a clerkship position. 

In 1963 she became a professor at Rutgers Law School, despite being told that she would be paid less than her male colleagues because her husband had a well-paid job. These experiences led her to co-found the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, a law journal focused exclusively on women’s rights.

It was not until 1967 did the look of the court begin to change with the first Black man named to the Supreme Court – Justice Thurgood Marshall. It was another 26 years before the first woman would be appointed when in 1981, President Ronald Regan nominated Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

In 1993, 206 years after the Supreme Court’s establishment, President Bill Clinton appointed Justice Ginsburg. The United States Senate confirmed her by a 96–3 vote on August 3, 1993.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's graduation photo from Cornell University in 1954.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s graduation photo from Cornell University in 1954.

In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded and was General Counsel of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU. From 1972 to 1974, she participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases. Famously, she successfully argued 5 out of 6 gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, claims brought on behalf of both women and men, demonstrating that gender discrimination is harmful to both. 

It wasn’t until Ginsburg’s work in Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971) that the Supreme Court extended the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to women. It prohibits any state from denying “any person equal protection of the laws.” She calculated her winning method by following the strategic approach of Thurgood Marshall, taking a step-by-step approach to challenging gender-based discriminatory laws under the Equal Protection Clause.

Justice Ginsburg was a true believer in equality for everyone. She authored the majority opinion in Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring, 527 U.S. 581 (1999) demonstrating her strong commitment to the equal rights of people with disabilities. This landmark decision holds that people with mental disabilities must receive treatment and services in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual’s needs. This decision established one of the most critical features of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”): preventing the needless institutionalization of people with disabilities capable of living in the community. Also, this decision recognizes that undue institutionalization qualifies as “discrimination.” 

In reaching this conclusion, joined by a plurality of the Court, Justice Ginsburg relied heavily on the findings and purposes of the ADA including Congress’ determination that 

[H]istorically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and, despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem . . . discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in such critical areas as . . . institutionalization.

The disability community has long hailed the Olmstead decision as acknowledging the simple yet historically unrecognized reality that people with disabilities should live in “Our homes, not nursing homes!” The Olmstead decision is also the very purpose of the political action disability group ADAPT. ADAPT members are friends and allies of CCDC, people who have spent their lives protesting unnecessary segregation and isolation of people with disabilities. Justice Ginsburg’s opinion in Olmstead was the U.S. Supreme Court’s first recognition that people with disabilities may no longer be incarcerated in nursing homes and other institutions when, instead, living in the community is the appropriate answer. The Olmstead decision remains one of the most important Supreme Court decisions ever reached regarding the end of unnecessary discrimination against people with disabilities. It also demonstrates Justice Ginsburg’s understanding of one of the most crucial of the ADA’s promises – that all people, regardless of perceived differences, are entitled to the same opportunities and equal protection under the law. It was no longer permissible to hide and keep from public view, people with disabilities. CCDC cannot thank Justice Ginsburg enough for this critical ruling. She was a true believer in equal and social justice for all people. 

According to Justice Ginsburg:

When I’m sometimes asked “When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?” and I say “When there are nine,” people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.

It may well be said that Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinions are also essential expressions of all people’s equality. Justice Ginsburg has stated publicly that one of her proudest professional moments came when authoring the dissenting opinion for Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., 550 U.S. 618 (2007). The claim was regarding unequal pay for equal work. Upon retirement, Lilly Ledbetter discovered the pay discrepancy. However, the majority opinion held that Lilly Ledbetter did not raise her claim within the 180-day time frame to bring a claim. Justice Ginsburg made clear in her dissenting opinion that the ongoing disparity in payment between women and men is not something that is discovered paycheck by paycheck. Therefore, the 180 day period in which the majority found had expired was insufficient to ensure proper compensation for such pay disparities. This case led to Congress passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama. 

CCDC Executive Director Julie Reiskin could not agree more with Justice Ginsburg’s famous quotation, 

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

The importance of Justice Ginsburg’s passing is a stark reminder to all of us an issue Kevin Williams has been raising with CCDC members and people with disabilities for years:

“Everyone knows that all Federal Court judges and Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate’s advice and consent. If you don’t think voting matters, you’re not paying attention.”

As of right now, there are less than 45 days until the next presidential election.

The immediate question for all voters and constituents should be whether the current President and Senate should push through this lifetime appointment now or wait until the next presidential election? The last time a Justice died was in 2016 – ten months before the presidential election.  Senator Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the following before the 2016 election shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia:

“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, “Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”

He then repeated, 

“And you could use my words against me, and you’d be absolutely right.”

Also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Senator Graham’s comments in February 2016:

“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell said. “The next President may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice.”

However, on September 18, 2020, within hours of her death, both senators said they intended to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Ginsburg’s death. Any nominee President Trump puts forward will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.  

CCDC ENCOURAGES OUR MEMBERS to call both Colorado Senators and ask them to wait until after the inauguration and then have an appropriate vetting process.

Contact Senator Cory Gardner

Contact Senator Michael Bennet

No one knows what will happen between now and November 3, 2020, but CCDC encourages you to vote. See Colorado Voter Q & A from CCDC. Your vote counts! Why, when individual voters do not vote for Federal Court judges? It is simple: 

  • Federal courts and judges under federal law hear civil rights cases for people with disabilities.
  • The president appoints federal judges.
  • The Senate confirms the appointment through their power of “Advice and Consent.”
  • Therefore, the protection of people with disabilities is in the hands of the President and the Senate.

We will miss Justice Ginsburg for her wisdom, passion for equality, humor, and contributions to the Supreme Court, particularly in equal rights for all people for the last 27 years. 

We continue to ask you to vote on or before November 3. Colorado mail-in ballots will arrive on or around October 9th. In short, voting remains highly important if for no other reason than to ensure the judges throughout the federal court system, including the Supreme Court, are appointed by a President who holds your same values and will nominate the federal judges you want. 

Vote as if your life depended on it. It just might.

Call our Senators and demand a reasonable, thoughtful process for vetting our next Supreme Court Justice.

Contact Senator Cory Gardner

Contact Senator Michael Bennet

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, A.K.A. "The Notorious RGB."
Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, A.K.A. “The Notorious RGB.”

 

Colorado Voter Q & A from CCDC

As we get closer to the November election, questions about the process increase. We have a Q & A for you that may answer many of them.

Just a reminder: Colorado is a vote by mail state. This means you will receive your ballot in the mail and you can return it by mail, or drop your ballot off at a dropbox (secured and monitored by camera.)

You may have been hearing a lot in the media and from the White House about voter fraud surrounding mail-in ballots.  A study of the 2016 presidential election conducted by the Colorado secretary of state’s office uncovered 112 total instances of possible improper voting during the 2014 contest.  To put that in perspective, that is 112 out of 2.9 million voters or less than 0.004%!

You can ensure your vote counts but checking your voter registration status at the secretary of state website, and then return your ballot with enough time if you mail it or better still, drop it off at a voter dropbox. You can even check the status of the ballot you mailed in or dropped off. Just make sure your voice is heard.

Voting Q & A


All I am hearing about is the coming election. Does my vote even count?

Your vote does count! Recent elections across our country have been won or lost by a few hundred or thousand votes. Coloradoans will be voting for the President and who will represent us in the Senate. The President appoints and the Senate confirms judges that decide important civil rights cases and will determine the future of the ADA. They also decide who will run important agencies like Health and Human Services, Social Security, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that make rules that affect us. We will also be voting on important ballot measures that affect our daily life in Colorado.

I don’t know how to vote?

If you do not know how to vote the Secretary of State Website has a lot of great information including information for people with disabilities. If you cannot understand it call CCDC or any disability advocacy organization for assistance.

I do not know who to vote for?

As a non-profit organization, CCDC can not tell people to vote for or against candidates. One suggestion is to make a list of the services you use and then go to the candidate website and see if they are willing to fund the services. Do you use the Division of Rehabilitation (DVR), Medicaid (CDASS, Waivers, Homemaker Services), Special Education, public transportation? In early October, we will have a voter guide to explain ballot measures which will impact benefits and services for people with disabilities. We can suggest that people vote or against ballot measures. You make the final decision!

When will I receive my ballot?

Ballots will be mailed beginning October 9. It may take up to a week to receive your ballots.

I am nervous about mailing my ballot in. Are there other ways for me to vote or return my ballot?

In Colorado, we have several ways to vote. A person can vote in person at a voting service center, mail a ballot in, or drop their ballot off at a dropbox which all have cameras. CCDC is encouraging our members to vote early and drop them off at a drop box. If you are unable to drop your ballot off, you can have an aide or friend drop it off. Anyone can drop off 9 ballots and their own per election. You may be able to drop off another person’s ballot. There is a number on each ballot envelope that you can use to make sure your ballot is counted. Justvotecolorado.org will tell you where the nearest voter service center location is and dropbox. Remember each Coloradoan can vote only 1 time so make sure your voice is counted.

I do not know if I’m registered to vote.

You can find out here: Find my Registration and if you are not registered or your registration is not correct you can Register to Vote.

I have a guardian, can I vote?

Yes, Here in Colorado individuals who have a guardian can vote.

When is the last day I can register to vote?

People can register to vote and vote on election day until 7 pm (Tuesday, November 3rd) when the polls close.

I use special equipment to type or correspond.

Colorado law has provisions to help you vote in private if you want to. Go to Accessible Voting for information.

When are ballots due?

ALL ballots must be in by 7 pm on Tuesday, November 3. This means they must be in, not postmarked. So if you mail your ballot, mail it at least ten days before 11/3 (or on 10/24).

I have another question.

Call Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing, at 303-531-7333


 

Jury Trial Protocols 6/30/2020

United States District Court. District of Colorado, Official Shield or Emblem

Jury Trial Protocols

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has adopted the following protocols for conducting jury and bench trials in the Arraj and Rogers Courthouses in Denver during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

SUMMONING AND SCREENING OF POTENTIAL JURORS

 

  • Anticipating a higher rate of excused jurors, the Jury Division has increased monthly jury pools by approximately 40%.
  • All potential jurors will be informed of the courthouse mask requirement and urged to bring their own mask. Disposable masks will be available for those who show up without a mask.
  • During the week prior to their expected service, potential jurors will be contacted and screened for factors that would automatically excuse the potential jurors from service. These factors include:
    • Currently experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or recent loss of the sense of taste or smell;
    • Having had close contact in the last 14 days with any person who has been diagnosed within the last month with COVID-19;
    • Having been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency; or
    • Recognized by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) as a person at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • On their reporting day, jurors will be directed to an outdoor station to ask them again about the above-listed factors before they enter the courthouse.
  • A separate security line will be established for potential jurors in order to promote social distancing and provide for orderly entry into the courthouse.
  • Juror check-in will occur in the Arraj Jury Assembly Room, which will allow appropriate social distancing for approximately 50 potential jurors.

 

 

JURY SELECTION

 

Civil Trials:

  • Courtroom A201 (the ceremonial courtroom) will be used to conduct voir dire.
  • Jurors who are physically able will walk from the Jury Assembly Room to the ceremonial courtroom by stairs instead of elevators.
  • Jurors will be seated in the gallery of the ceremonial courtroom, which will accommodate 22 jurors with adequate social distancing. An additional five jurors may be seated in the jury box, and four more jurors may be seated in front of the jury box, if necessary.
  • Because the gallery will be occupied by the jury, spectators will not be permitted in the ceremonial courtroom. An audio link will be provided to allow members of the public to call in and listen to the proceedings.

Criminal Trials:

 

  • Courtroom A201 will be used to conduct voir dire.
  • Jurors who are physically able will walk from the Jury Assembly Room to the ceremonial courtroom by stairs instead of elevators.
  • Jurors will be seated in the gallery of the ceremonial courtroom, which will accommodate 22 jurors with adequate social distancing. An additional five jurors may be seated in the jury box, and four more jurors may be seated in front of the jury box, if necessary.
  • Voir dire may be conducted in two rounds, if necessary. In such case, peremptory challenges will be exercised at the conclusion of both rounds against the entire qualified venire.
  • A VTC link will be established between the ceremonial courtroom and the Jury Assembly Room so that the jurors seated in the Jury Assembly Room can follow along with the voir dire questions asked in the courtroom.
  • Because the gallery will be occupied by the jury, spectators will not be permitted in the ceremonial courtroom. An audio link will be provided to allow members of the public to call in and listen to the proceedings.

 

EMPANELED JURIES:

 

  • Trial will take place in the assigned courtroom of the presiding judicial officer or, in the discretion of the presiding judicial officer, in the ceremonial courtroom.
  • Jurors will sit in the gallery of the courtroom.
  • Jurors with sight or hearing issues will be seated towards the front of the gallery.
  • Jurors will be instructed to report to an alternate courtroom each morning and at the conclusion of lunch breaks, which will serve as the jury deliberation room.
  • Beginning on the morning of the second day of trial, and on all mornings thereafter, jurors will be required to call the assigned courtroom deputy before 7:30 a.m. if he or she is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

 

TRIAL PROCEDURES:

 

  • Everyone in the courtroom must wear a mask.
  • Masks may be removed for purposes of identification in-court and for the purposes of briefly allowing the jury to see the witness’s or party’s face by way of introducing the person to the jury.
  • Attorneys and witnesses are encouraged to experiment with different styles of masks prior to trial so that they choose a mask that protects others, but also allows them to be understood more easily when speaking into a microphone.
  • Two laptop computers will be set up in the jury deliberation room, which will allow an attorney to conduct a witness examination via VTC without a mask.
  • Witnesses may testify in the courtroom with a mask or via VTC from the jury deliberation room without a mask.
  • Attorneys may ask questions in the courtroom with a mask or via VTC from the jury deliberation room without a mask.
  • Attorneys should address the court and the jury from the table where they are sitting and avoid use of the podium.
  • Attorneys should speak from the same microphone for the duration of the trial and avoid touching the microphone. Microphone covers will be provided and changed out during the lunch break and before each day’s trial session.
  • Exhibits should be presented electronically or, if necessary, with the document viewer, to avoid passing out or touching paper.
  • The Court has procured a two-way electronic transceiver system that will allow private encrypted conversations between people speaking in a quiet voice.
  • One pair of transceivers will be offered to criminal defense counsel and the defendant to facilitate confidential communications between the two while in court and still allow for social distancing.
  • A second set of transceivers, set on a separate secure channel, will be provided to one attorney for each side/party, the presiding judicial officer, and the court reporter in order to conduct bench conferences.
  • Attorneys are encouraged to bring their own ear buds with microphone (male-end plug) for greater comfort and cleanliness when using the transceiver system. Criminal defense attorneys should also bring a set of earbuds for the defendant. Bluetooth is not supported by this system.
  • Bench conferences may be conducted using the transceiver system described above. At the judge’s discretion, the judge, one attorney for each side/party, and the court reporter, all wearing masks, can move to the jury deliberation room and/or hallway behind the courtroom to conduct bench conferences without using the transceiver system.
  • Parties shall have one, or at most two, witnesses in the witness waiting areas at any one time. Witnesses waiting to testify shall observe proper social distancing and wear masks.
  • Because the gallery will be occupied by the jury, spectators will not be permitted in the trial courtroom. An audio link will be provided to allow members of the public to call in and listen to the proceedings.

Bench Trials:

 

  • Bench trials will be conducted in accordance with the trial procedures outlined above adjusted for the absence of a jury.
  • Pursuant to the discretion of the presiding judicial officer, members of the public and other spectators will be permitted in the gallery of the courtroom. Spectators may only sit in designated locations in the gallery and must wear masks. In the alternative, an audio link will be provided to allow members of the public and other spectators to call in and listen to the proceedings.

 

 

GENERAL COURTROOM RULES:

 

  • All entrants to courthouses must abide by the entry requirements specified in General Order 2020-10.
  • Masks must be worn at all times within the courthouse.
  • Elevators are limited to two passengers at a time.
  • Public bathrooms are limited to two occupants at a time.
  • Each person must maintain at least 6 feet separation from other people.
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available in all courtrooms.
  • Courtroom cleaning protocols have been enhanced; all high touch surfaces will be disinfected regularly.

 

Adopted by the Court on June 30, 2020.

 

Click here to download the Original “Jury Trial Protocols” on PDF

I Vote because…

In conjunction with the Getting Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) will be issuing a social media video challenge – “I’m disabled and this is why I vote…”

This is a call to arms for any and everyone in the disability community – regardless of disability type, or severity – to rise up and use your voice to demand action!

We need the disabled community to be registered to vote, to exercise their right to vote, and to hold their elected officials accountable to fulfilling their campaign promises – especially when it comes to protecting persons living with disabilities civil rights and healthcare, especially Medicaid.

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Record a selfie-style video of yourself starting with the phrase, “I’m disabled and this is why I vote…”
    • If you are not a person living with a disability and would like to participate that is wonderful! Thank you! You can start by saying, “I am a person who is not disabled, but I vote for candidates who support the rights of people living with disabilities, and here’s why…”
  • Post your video to your social media platforms (i.e.: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.) using the following hashtags:
    • #Vote4Medicaid
    • #ColoradoDisabilityPowerVote
    • #ColoradoDisabiltyCommunity
    • #VoteLikeYourLifeDependsOnIt
    • #DisabilityRights
    • #DisabledVoicesInAction
    • #HearUs
    • #SeeUs
    • #ProtectUs
    • #VotingForOurLives
  • Make sure that your post is public and sharable, and if possible please include closed captioning with your video(s).
  • Tag CCDC in your post so that we can share it.
  • Share the Colorado Voter Registration website link as often as possible – https://www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/olvr/verifyNewVoter.xhtml
  • If you see someone’s post using any of the hashtags mentioned above, especially, please like and share it to help expand the post’s reach and gain traction.

Returning to Work

An Employee’s Guide from CCDC

  1. Questions to Ask
  2. Talk to Your Employer
  3. Reasonable Accommodations
  4. Other Options
  5. Reporting an Unsafe Work Environment
  6. Discrimination
  7. Resources

CCDC has received questions about returning to work as it relates to people with disabilities.   Our state has a return to work guidance that is relevant to unemployment.   The EEOC has also issued guidance about returning to work.  It is in Section G: Return to Work.

People with disabilities and those we live with have vastly different experiences and needs.  Therefore, this is not intended to be directive or legal guidance.  This document should help people think about what questions they need to ask of themselves and their employers.   


Questions to Ask

  • Do you have a disability?  
    • The ADA defines disability as a substantial impairment in a major life activity.  
    • People who are considered disabled or have a record or history of disability are also covered under anti-discrimination laws. 
  • If yes, does your particular disability make you vulnerable or at risk if you get COVID-19?  
    • Possible disabilities that put you at increased risk include respiratory disabilities, heart conditions, neurological impairments, and chronic illnesses.   
  • Do you live with someone with a disability? 
    • If yes, does that disability make the person vulnerable or at risk if they get COVID-19?
  • Are you over 60?
  • Do you live with someone over 60?

Answering “Yes” to any of these questions means you have additional things to think about with regard to returning to work.   


Talk to Your Employer

OSHA Guidance for Employers

Questions to ask yourself and your employer:

  • Can my job be done remotely?   
    • If you have a disability, you could request this as a reasonable accommodation.   
    • If you do not have a disability yourself, there is no requirement to allow work from home, but governments, including the state of Colorado, are strongly encouraging this practice. 
  • Is my employer following COVID guidance issued by OSHA?  
    • Check on your employer’s return to work policies and workplace safety policies.  
  • Do I need to interact with the public as part of my job?  
    • If yes, is my employer mandating mask use?  
  • Do I have a safe way to report violations of company policy (such as people not wearing masks)?

Reasonable Accommodations

If you ask for a reasonable accommodation, remember:

  • You need to ask –your employer cannot read minds.  
    • Make your request in writing and explain the connection between your disability and the requested change.  
    • For example, I have a neurological disability and weakened lung capacity and request to work at home. Working from home reduces my exposure to other people and reduces my risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Your employer may have a specific form they want you to use.  
    • Use their way unless you have a disability-related reason not to.  
    • There is no sense in arguing about that issue.
  • Your employer will engage in an interactive process.  
    • It may be give-and-take on both sides.   
    • Be solution-focused.
  • You still need to be able to do the essential functions of your job.  
    • For example: If you are a customer service representative and the system can’t forward calls to your home phone, then an essential function of your job requires you to be in the office.

Other Options

If there is no way to accommodate you in your position consider:

  • Asking if there are other positions for which you qualify.
    • If so, ask for a transfer when there is an opening.
  • Ask how much stored up sick or vacation time you have. 
    • Likely it will not be enough to get through the remainder of the pandemic, but you can use it while you figure out your other options.
  • You MAY be eligible for unemployment
    • To maintain your eligibility for benefits, you must complete regular work search activities that help you return to work.  

Reporting an Unsafe Work Environment

  • If you fear your workplace is not safe and your management has not addressed concerns, you can look into the recently signed  Whistleblower Protection Public Health Emergencies Act
    • This new law offers significant protections for workers (employees and independent contractors) from discrimination or retaliation by their employers. 
    • Workers are protected from discrimination or retaliation for raising concerns about workplace safety or health during a public health emergency.
    • Workers are also protected when wearing their PPE at work. 
    • The full text of the law and more information is here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/HB20-1415.

Discrimination

If you feel you have faced discrimination, see what your employer’s internal grievance process is.  If you are a member of a union, they should be able to help you.  Otherwise, if you want to file a discrimination complaint you must submit an administrative complaint with a government agency.  

You can go to the EEOC or the state Civil Rights Division if you believe you have faced disability discrimination.


Resources

EEOC Pandemic Guidance

Sate of Colorado Guidance

Guidance for Employers and General Public

 

Curb Cuts and Captions

Written by Nina Endler of Boulder, CO
July, 2020

Earlier this year, something happened in my neighborhood of 1960s ranches, split levels, and tri-levels that I wished had been there while my children were growing up. (For the record, they’re 19 and 22.)

Image of President George H.W. Bush with Evan J. Kemp, Jr., then the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (pictured next to President Bush seated in his motorized wheelchair) and Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr., often called the “Godfather of the ADA,” an American activist and advocate for people with disabilities and co-founder of the American
(For the uninitiated, that’s President Bush the Elder signing the Americans with Disabilities Act – ADA – on July 26, 1990.)

In the first part of a year that marks 30 years since this happened -my neighborhood, in which the trees now tower over the houses at long last received these: curb cuts!

picture of curb cuts at an intersection
A curb cut is a solid (usually concrete) ramp graded down from the top surface of a sidewalk to the surface of an adjoining street.

How nice it would have been to have these while I was pushing a baby jogger, while my daughters were learning to ride bikes, while…

But wait, that’s not their intended purpose – that’s not their raison d’etre.

They are, however probably the best example of universal design, of something that was done so more of us could participate and which those of us who were already participating also benefit from. With them, my neighbors who are now pushing baby joggers no longer need to carefully navigate going down and then up each curb. Children who are now learning to ride bikes no longer need to stop, get off their bike, and then get back on. Walking and wheeling through the neighborhood is now more seamless. Something for which the wheels (pun intended) were set in motion 30 years ago is benefiting significantly more people than was initially intended.

Recently, the state chapter of the union I belong to held a webinar and after it was over, emailed the link to its membership. I received this email on my phone, clicked on the link, and, as I do when captions don’t automatically come up, searched for a way to turn them on. As the displays are different on different devices, and willing to give the state chapter of my union the benefit of the doubt, I figured that the captions didn’t display on smaller devices such as phones. Since I wasn’t near my larger devices at the time, and as I had also seen a social media post about the webinar, I inquired on the post about the availability of captions. The state contact apologized “that wasn’t accommodated on this webinar. I realize that is not ok and we will correct for future webinars.”

It has now been 30 years since the first President Bush signed the ADA. Let’s stop thinking of captions as an accommodation. Let’s stop thinking of things like curb cuts and captions as accommodations and start thinking of them as universal design. Let’s eliminate the perception of curb cuts and captions as being “for those who need them.” Just as people who are currently pushing baby joggers and children who are currently learning to ride a bike in my neighborhood are benefiting from the new curb cuts, here’s a starter list of how people with typical hearing benefit from captions.

  • You’re insomniac and you want to watch a video you’ve been meaning to watch while remaining in bed. The person next to you, who has typical hearing is sleeping.
  • You’re in a noisy area and you can’t find your earbuds.
  • You went to work outside of a coffee shop and left your AirPods at home.
  • You’re parallel-working with a family member at the table and you want to be able to listen for an anticipated delivery so you don’t put anything in your ears.
  • You don’t have either AirPods or earbuds and the noise of your device interferes with the concentration of the other person in the room who’s reading a book.

Because captions are still thought of as an accommodation rather than as universal design, OTTO Health didn’t include captions in their telehealth platform. Because captions are still thought of as an accommodation rather than as universal design, Zoom does not offer live captions that anyone can turn on with the click of a button. Because captions are still thought of as an accommodation rather than as universal design, I can’t follow a YouTube video that doesn’t have the CC icon in the lower right corner.

Let’s stop thinking of things like curb cuts and captions as accommodations and start thinking of them as what they really are – a universal design that everyone benefits from. With universal design, webinars wouldn’t be filmed, online platforms wouldn’t be made and YouTube videos wouldn’t be posted without captions. And someone with typical hearing can watch the recording of a webinar in bed while they’re insomniac and not wake up the person sleeping next to them.

CCDC will never forget Representative John Lewis, Our mentor and teacher — WE LOST A GREAT ONE!

Tribute was written by Kevin W. Williams, Legal Program Director,
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Civil Rights Legal Program

Image of Congressman John Robert Lewis, official Congressional photo.
Image of Congressman John Robert Lewis, official Congressional photo.

“We are one people with one family. We’ll live in the same house . . . and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”* – Rep. John Lewis (All quotations throughout this CCDC Memorial blog are the words of John Lewis himself unless otherwise noted).

This tribute allows John Lewis to speak for himself in the humble yet powerful way only he could.

Image of young John Lewis as he proudly crosses Edmund Pettus Bridge, leading the March on Bloody Sunday to secure voting rights for Black Americans in the state of Alabama. Photo from “There’s a better way to honor John Lewis than renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge” AL.com, Alabama.
Image of young John Lewis as he proudly crosses Edmund Pettus Bridge, leading the March on Bloody Sunday to secure voting rights for Black Americans in the state of Alabama. Photo from “There’s a better way to honor John Lewis than renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge” AL.com, Alabama.

The disability rights movement owes an enormous debt of gratitude to John Lewis, who died on July 17, 2020. His was indeed a life well-lived. He was our teacher and demonstrated why, in so many ways, “Black Lives Matter!” Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle referred to him as the “Conscience of the Congress,” and Congress will never be the same without him. His life, his perspective, his commitment stayed with him until the day he died. We need and miss him, especially now, and always will.

In 1961, John Lewis became one of the original 13 Freedom Riders; the group made up of seven black and six white Americans. They were determined to ride from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. Much of this work was attributed to his involvement with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Congress of Racial Equality. He and the other Freedom Riders were severely beaten and jailed as they entered the southern states.

“We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.”*

The disability community took all of its cues from John Lewis when shutting down the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver, Colorado. The Gang of 19 threw themselves out of their wheelchairs and blocked buses overnight on the busiest street in Denver – Colfax Avenue between Broadway and Lincoln. The Gang of 19 was responsible for forcing RTD to be the first transportation system in the country to install wheelchair lifts on its buses. All of the tactics for making this happen can be attributed to the work of John Lewis.

Denied the right to vote, he and the other marchers refused to give up! Even as he led the march (literally — he was at the front of the line) across the bridge, at which point the Alabama State Patrol took a billy club to his head before arresting him. John Lewis, following in the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King, understood and believed in the theory of nonviolent protest. He and those with him demonstrated to this country and the world that those who are willing to risk everything (their bodies, arrest, and even death) without using violence have great power to show the oppressor. Despite repeated attempts to stop the protesters from attaining the same rights enjoyed by all others, they just kept coming back. The message was and, as we have seen with the latest “Black Lives Matter” marches and protests, is powerful. For a while, the nonviolent protest strategies used by John Lewis changed the hearts and minds of many – but not all. And he lived just long enough to see how his efforts and those he orchestrated can still be taken away. Meaning the fight goes on, and we must be prepared to continue. 

Indeed, the disability rights movement would not have existed without an understanding of how John Lewis and those of like mind showed this country what injustice looks like and why it can not be tolerated.

“You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way… to get in the way.”*

“I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.”*

CCDC also sees the involvement of young people with disabilities as a top priority as we navigate through very uncertain times – viewing the progress we have made and seeing what is left for us to do or do over again.

“I say to people today, you must be prepared if you believe in something. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As individuals, we may not live to see the end.”*

“Never give up. Never give in. Never become hostile . . . HATE is too big a burden to bear.”*

Image of the young, Black student, Anne Moody “sitting-in” at an “All Whites” lunch counter being taunted and tormented by many young white people expressing disapproval. Photo courtesy of the Jackson Free Press.
Image of the young, Black student, Anne Moody “sitting-in” at an “All Whites” lunch counter being taunted and tormented by many young white people expressing disapproval. Photo courtesy of the Jackson Free Press.

Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University after graduating from The American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. As a student and member of the Nashville Student Movement, he was responsible for organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters.

When you see something that is not right, not fear, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”*

In 1961, Lewis, as one of the Freedom Riders, was beaten by angry mobs, arrested, and at times, taken to jail.

We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back,” Lewis said towards the end of his life regarding his perseverance following the acts of violence.*

Images of John Lewis being arrested during nonviolent protests. The picture on the left courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine “John Lewis’ Arrest Records are Finally Uncovered Smart News.”
Images of John Lewis being arrested during nonviolent protests.
Image courtesy of The Tennesseen, “John Lewis recalls being carried out of sit-in.”
Image courtesy of The Tennesseen, “John Lewis recalls being carried out of sit-in.” Pictures courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine “John Lewis’ Arrest Records are Finally Uncovered Smart News.”

In 1963, he became the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the youngest chairman ever to have led the organization that focused solely upon enforcing the civil rights of Black Americans through the use of nonviolent protest. Before that, he was an active participant in the Nashville Student Movement, whose first mission was to desegregate lunch counters, which were ultimately successful.

“Some of us give a little blood for the right to participate in the democratic process.”*

Many reports state that before becoming a United States Representative, John Lewis was arrested and beaten 40 times during non-violent protests and five times after his election. Despite all of the mistreatment, terrible beatings, arrests for engaging in activity already protected by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution (like voting), Lewis had this to say:

“If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”*

Image of 23-year-old John Morris speaking at the March on Washington for Jobs in Freedom on August 28, 1963, the same day as the famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post “At the 1963 March on Washington, civil rights leaders asked John Lewis to tone his speech down.”
Image of 23-year-old John Morris speaking at the March on Washington for Jobs in Freedom on August 28, 1963, the same day as the famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post “At the 1963 March on Washington, civil rights leaders asked John Lewis to tone his speech down.”

John Lewis was also the youngest speaker during the March on Washington in 1963. He was asked to tone down his speech for being “too radical.”

Photo of sit-in protest staged by Congressman John Lewis for the purpose of getting the Senate to pass gun control legislation courtesy of CNN.com Democrats and House sit-in protest over gun control;”
Photo of sit-in protest staged by Congressman John Lewis for the purpose of getting the Senate to pass gun control legislation courtesy of CNN.com Democrats and House sit-in protest over gun control;”
Sit-in protest by disability rights advocates at the office of Sen. Cory Gardner (pictured are Carrie Ann Lucas and other prominent activists in the disability community) courtesy of the Washington Examiner “Protesters arrested at Sen. Cory Gardner’s office after two-day sit-in protesting healthcare bill.
Sit-in protest by disability rights advocates at the office of Sen. Cory Gardner (pictured are Carrie Ann Lucas and other prominent activists in the disability community) courtesy of the Washington Examiner “Protesters arrested at Sen. Cory Gardner’s office after two-day sit-in protesting healthcare bill.

Many of the strategies and decision-making that went into the protests organized in large part by John Lewis and SNCC were then used by those in the disability rights movement that created organizations like ADAPT and CCDC. The sit-in protests were continued by John Lewis even when he was a member of the House of Representatives. This purpose and meaning behind this particular method of protesting certainly have not been lost on the disability civil rights community.

John Lewis did go on to become the United States Congressional Representative from the Fifth District of the state of Georgia from January 3, 1987, until his death on July 17, 2020. His legislative accomplishments are too many to list, as well as his achievements before becoming a member of Congress.

“If someone had told me in 1963 that one day I would be in Congress, I would’ve said, ‘you’re crazy. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’”*

Not only did John Lewis become a Congressman for the Fifth District of Georgia, but he also served 16 terms in that position. He eventually became the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the House of Representatives Committee and Ways in Means, the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the senior chief deputy whip in the Democratic caucus.

In these roles, Representative Lewis accomplished a great deal for not only the Black Community but for all people — the human community.

The disability community and everyone who works for the social justice of all people and recognize as John Lewis did —

“[We] really believe that all of us, as Americans . . . we all need to be treated like fellow human beings.”*

Image of Congressman John Lewis receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in 2011, as seen in Fortune magazine article “Congressman John Lewis Says Cancer is His Latest Battle.” Carolyn Kaster|Credit: AP. Copyright: AP2011.
Image of Congressman John Lewis receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in 2011, as seen in Fortune magazine article “Congressman John Lewis Says Cancer is His Latest Battle.” Carolyn Kaster|Credit: AP. Copyright: AP2011.

Unfortunately, the “Conscience of the Congress” is now gone. Fortunately, he survived his pancreatic cancer just long enough to see the creation of the “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and watch those who have been protesting racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans throughout the country grow to a massive scale.

John Lewis observing Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., where the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” are painted in large yellow letters on 16th St. in Washington, D.C. John Lewis wearing a facial mask and a baseball cap that reads “1619,” courtesy of “How the Black Lives Matter generation remembers John Lewis,” KSTP.com
John Lewis observing Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., where the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” are painted in large yellow letters on 16th St. in Washington, D.C. John Lewis wearing a facial mask and a baseball cap that reads “1619,” courtesy of “How the Black Lives Matter generation remembers John Lewis,” KSTP.com
Washington, DC. Mayor Muriel Bowser and John Lewis wearing facial masks and standing on the letters of “BLACK LIVES MATTER” painted on 16th St. in Washington, D.C. courtesy of “Civil rights icon John Lewis calls Black Lives Matter mural 'a powerful work of art' during a visit with DC mayor.”
Washington, DC. Mayor Muriel Bowser and John Lewis wearing facial masks and standing on the letters of “BLACK LIVES MATTER” painted on 16th St. in Washington, D.C. courtesy of “Civil rights icon John Lewis calls Black Lives Matter mural ‘a powerful work of art’ during a visit with DC mayor.”

A champion of justice, a believer in peaceful and nonviolent resistance, a fellow human being standing against the oppression of anyone, and one of the few genuinely decent human beings, John Lewis will be missed. Nevertheless, the young activist individuals who joined the House of Representatives in 2018 are there in no small part due to the legacy of John Lewis.  At this critical time in American history, we must all follow Lewis’s words of wisdom and continue our commitment to social justice for all people, including people with disabilities. Rest assured, CCDC will carry on fighting – just as the “Conscience of the Congress” did and expected others to do as well.

Free COVID-19 Testing Available

Denver Public Health is offering Free COVID-19 Testing. Test results are available within approximately three (3) – five (5) business days. All are welcome regardless of insurance and immigration status. Visit any of our sites.

Monday, July 20, 2020
9:00AM-1:00PM
1098 S Federal Blvd., (Mississippi & Federal)
Denver, CO 80219

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020
9:00AM-1:00PM
Re:Vision
3800 Morrison Rd,
Denver, CO 80219

Friday, July 24, 2020
9:00AM-1:00PM
Swansea Rec Center
2650 E 49th Ave.
Denver, CO 80216

Saturday, July 25, 2020
10:00AM-2:00PM
Montbello High School
5000 Crown Blvd.
Denver, CO 80239

July 30th
9:00AM-1:00PM
Servicios De La Raza
3131 W 14th Ave,
Denver, CO 80204
The Stapleton Foundation’s be well initiative is a grassroots movement of communities coming together to take charge of their health and wellness.

Virtual Lobby Day Is Next Week! Call to Action

National Low-Income Housing Coalition                                       View this email in your browser

The U.S. Senate will move on a COVID-19 spending package before the end of July. The window is closing for needed advocacy. The time to act is now!

NLIHC and our partners throughout the country have been hard at work urging Congress to adopt our key priorities in the next COVID legislative package, including $100 billion in emergency rental assistance, a national eviction moratorium, and $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grant funding for homeless service providers. Now is the time for advocates to take action to demand #RentReliefNow!

Participate in a Virtual Lobby Day on July 21!

When the Senate returns to work on July 20, they will begin discussions and negotiations on a spending package to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recession. Any final bill must include the housing provisions of HEROES Act that has passed in the House of Representatives. In this crucial moment, join NLIHC and numerous national partners by setting up virtual lobby visits throughout the day on Tuesday, July 21.

NLIHC’s toolkit makes your participation easy. The toolkit includes talking points, statistics, a template email to request a meeting, a list of top policy asks, and sample tweets. NLIHC staff are also available to help set up and attend your virtual meetings if such assistance is needed. Please reach out to your housing advocacy organizers for more information; we look forward to assisting you in your advocacy!

If you have meetings already setup for Virtual Lobby Day, let us know by emailing any of the organizers on NLIHC’s field team or by filling out this quick form to submit your meeting. When your lobby meetings are done, please also complete this Lobby Visit Report Back Form. Even if you have done a meeting in the past couple of days or will do one or more on other days next week, we’ll still count that for our total. And be sure to tweet about your meetings by tagging your member of Congress and using the hashtag #RentReliefNow!
Thank you for your advocacy!

National Low Income Housing CoalitionThe National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.

Contact Us:
National Low Income Housing Coalition
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005
202-662-1530 x247

www.nlihc.org

The Denver Commission for People with Disabilities is seeking applicants!

The mission of Denver’s Commission for People with Disabilities is to promote equity for people with disabilities through empowerment, advocacy, and education by working with community members, and City and County of Denver officials and employees who have the ability to affect change.

The Commission is seeking candidates with experience in one or all of the following fields:

  • Writing
  • Decision making
  • Project Management
  • Marketing/Social Media
  • Team management

Individuals with disabilities as well as community representatives with expertise, understanding, and experience in these specific areas are encouraged to apply. Applications are also accepted from individuals who are not living with a disability but have a strong interest in serving the disability community.

The Commission meets the first Tuesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205) in Studio 106. Due to COVID-19 closures and social distancing measures, meetings will be open to the public via video conferencing technology. Please check our Facebook page for upcoming meeting announcements and access information.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the upcoming commission meetings. Interested applicants should apply here and attach a copy of their resume.

The deadline for applications is Monday, August 3, 2020.


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.

A+ A-