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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.)
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!
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.
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.
Tribute was written by Kevin W. Williams, Legal Program Director,
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Civil Rights Legal Program
“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.
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.”*
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.*
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.”*
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.”
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.”*
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.
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.
November 9th, 2020
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!
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.
National Low Income Housing Coalition
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005
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:
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.
A research study from the University of Colorado Denver is asking for help from the disability community. They are seeking individuals with disabilities who have had a stranger tell them they will pray for them. The goal of the study is to identify patterns within experiences.
To qualify for the 5 to 10-minute survey, you must:
The study is limited to adults with only these disabilities because we are unable to meet the requirements needed to administer it for adults with any cognitive disabilities. If you have a cognitive disability, we, unfortunately, cannot collect your information at this time. (Cognitive disability is defined as having difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem.)
The study will collect demographic information and sentiments felt about this experience. Demographic information consists of disability status, age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income range, and religious participation.
The survey will not record anyone’s name, email address, or other identifying information.
If you are willing to spend five to ten minutes answering a few questions, please follow this link: People with Disabilities Prayed for by Strangers
by Jaime Lewis - CCDC Transit Advocate and Advisor
July 9, 2020
State and County governments have struggled for two decades to fund repairs for roads and bridges. Rising costs and dwindling gas tax revenues have left most of the roads and bridges in our state at near or below standards.
Congress is currently debating the Invest Act. The Invest Act is a sub-portion of the larger act called the “Moving Forward Act” that will address housing, climate change, water, and land use. Four highlights of the Invest Act are,
Two years ago, Dave Genova, former CEO of RTD had a vision. He wanted to reimagine RTD. In other words, what would people expect of RTD in 2050?
The average length of a car trip is 2-4 miles. Smaller communities provide little to no transportation for our elderly, disabled, and the general public. A trip less than 4 miles could mean access to groceries, healthcare, recreation, and social interaction.
That’s all I got to say about that.
CCDC provides this information so you are informed of transit information. We hope some of you will take this knowledge and use it to share with your local representatives.
Article by Ed Carter Ablefutures.org | email@example.com
Running for office takes courage and determination, but it can also require some research. If you are a person who is living with disabilities and is contemplating getting more involved in politics, completing this research can help you make a more informed decision. Here are some of the essential topics you will need to look into before starting your campaign. Continue reading “4 Things to Research Before Launching Your Political Career”
Social Security is actually comprised of two trusts:
When the Trustees examine the long-term outlook for Social Security, they hypothetically combine the financials of these two trusts into one (known as the OASDI). But if these two trusts were examined individually, the OASI is in far greater danger of exhausting its asset reserves sooner. Based on the latest report, the OASI is expected to deplete its asset reserves by 2034, at which point benefit cuts would become necessary to sustain solvency.
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition stands with the Black Lives Matters movement to bear witness to the pain of centuries of racial oppression, inequity and white supremacy intensified by recent brutal actions including but not limited to the murder of George Floyd, the flaunting of white privilege by Amy Cooper, and the recent executions of Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. The anger is righteous and fueled by the exacerbation of racial disparities played out in the lacking response to the novel Coronavirus and some of the racist “dog whistle” rhetoric that goes with how we talk about “underlying conditions” which often involves victim-blaming rather than calling out oppressive policies of racism that permeates our health care systems.
This is not to disregard all of the cumulative behaviors/actions of the past. The oppressive policies of racism (both their design and how we carry them out explicitly and implicitly) permeate life in America and around the world, including the disability community. All of us who have benefited from our whiteness has a responsibility to actively engage in dismantling those systems. There are things white people can do and we must do so without making it about us. We must work together with our brothers and sisters in communities of color. Organizations led by marginalized communities must work against systemic racism. This is true for us even when disability is not the main issue.
So, why is CCDC saying anything? Because race and disability work together. People of color, particularly Black, Latino, and Indigenous people are more likely to have disabilities. Every factual indicator of disparity including health outcomes, education, employment, accumulation of wealth, the likelihood of being in a congregate setting including prison, jail, nursing facility, or homeless shelter, rises when you mix race and disability. People of color live with the constant stress of racism. This “toxic stress” causes many health conditions that can lead to disability. While there are no publicly know indications that the recent murder victims had disabilities many previous well-known victims did including Freddie Gray and Eric Garner. Moreover, Black people and other people of color are an important part of our organization. But this must go beyond disability. Our mission is to advocate for social justice and that includes being an ally even when disability is not part of the picture and even when it is not on the front pages. We must support organizations led by people of color and show up when invited and make offers to assist when we know of a need or understand the issues. It is up to all of us to dismantle the societal structures that got us to this place. We must do our own internal work as an organization and community to build a culture of equity, diversity, inclusiveness, and belonging, and at the same time work on systems issues. We need to increase the numbers of people of color throughout our organization and movement, especially in leadership positions. We must do this work every day and honor the goals set out in our strategic plan that integrate racial equity into all of our work.