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Category: Publications

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Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

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.

“I still have not found the right words.”

Dear CCDC Members:

I have long admired the work of the National Federation of the Blind.  I have been at a loss for words and thinking about what to say that is meaningful in light of all that is going on.  I still have not found the right words, but the message from the president of NFB is important and I think this is relevant for all disability groups.

Julie Reiskin, CCDC Executive Director

From Mark A. Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind

I write this message to you as the elected President of the National Federation of the Blind. I also write it to you as an American who is struggling this week. I call upon members of our organization to recognize the solidarity we share as blind people and that the value we place on love within our movement is needed more today than at any other time in our history.

I watched the horrific video shot by a brave seventeen-year-old of the killing of George Floyd, a citizen of our great nation. Before I watched the video, I wondered what I could do and how I could contribute to healing the pain. I had no answers. After I watched the video, I realized I still did not have the answers and I was sad, angry, scared, frustrated, and without hope. Then I realized that we share tools in the National Federation of the Blind that can help. We can not look away and we need to share what we know from our experience in this people’s movement.

Our movement has been sustained for the purpose of serving as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the nation to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind. While racial equality in our nation is not within our mission, we also recognize that blindness affects all races and that the society we live within has an impact on our membership.

The Federation’s Code of Conduct specifically emphasizes our commitments to diversity. In short “We respect differences of opinion, beliefs, identities, and other characteristics that demonstrate that blind people are a diverse cross-section of society…In promoting a diverse and growing organization, we expect integrity and honesty in our relationships with each other and openness to learning about and experiencing cultural diversity. We believe that these qualities are crucial to fostering social and intellectual maturity. Intellectual maturity also requires the individual to struggle with unfamiliar ideas.” This week, I have been struggling to comprehend the fear and anger that black members of my Federation family are experiencing. I do not, and never can have the authentic lived experience that you have, but yet I am also completely outraged by the hate and injustice that fell upon George Floyd on Monday. I recognize there are many centuries of painful layers wrapped up in that moment. I recognize that George is neither the first nor the last in a chain of injustices that need to be addressed. I want you to know I stand with you in facing the injustice that persists against you because of the color of your skin. I want you to know that I love you and I struggle with not being able to fully know your pain and fear. I want you to know I am prepared to be guided by you as to how I can make a difference. I cannot say that I have not become desensitized in times past, but I can tell you I will never turn away again.

While our organization is dedicated to advancing the rights of blind people, we should not act as though race does not exist. As our chapters attempt to do business, as we urge our members to take up our priorities, we should recognize that thousands of our members are impacted by the painful realizations of this week. As a people’s movement, we cannot pretend that our people only have one characteristic. Now is the time to let each member know we love them and we recognize their hurt. Now is also the time for us to recognize, as individuals, that we carry implicit bias learned from the society around us, and to seek the training that will enhance our awareness. Now is the time to give love to our black members so that we might learn how we can do better in building the understanding that powers the organized blind movement.

Now is not the time for us to use our organizational communication tools to offer position statements about the activities playing out on the streets of our nation. it is easy to write messages and posts of solidarity without having a true understanding of the issues. It is easy to suggest that we share the concerns of our black members. The harder thing for us to do is to consciously listen and seek understanding while supporting others in their pain and frustration. The Federation has never been known for merely doing what is easy. The priority today is to ensure all of our black members know they are welcomed and loved in this movement. In fact, we should extend that same truth to any others who feel the real pain sweeping our nation. Please do not use organizational assets to enter the dialogue around race. That is not our purpose as an organization and we may unintentionally make it worse. We need to continue to coordinate messaging and to be guided by the wisdom of our diversity and inclusion committee. As leaders of our movement, we should also be conscious that our public posts may be misunderstood as representing the Federation. Our personal feelings and misunderstanding around the death of George Floyd, the protests sweeping our nation, and the underlying systemic discrimination may hurt and divide members of the organization. We cannot let that happen and we must be careful as leaders not to add to the pain our members are experiencing. As it relates to our public messaging, let us stay focused on the priorities of the organized blind movement. As it comes to our cherished friends, let our priority be to reach out personally to listen and offer our hands in support.

I have had the opportunity to gather virtually with some of our top black leaders­a group who will continue to guide my actions related to these issues. I asked them for wisdom and love in finding ways that I could guide our membership during this trying time in our nation. Their message was clear. Our movement is built on love and love always conquers hate. The Federation family needs to shine a light for the rest of the nation by continuing to demonstrate that the love, and solidarity, that we share with each other in this movement makes all the difference. They also noted that our organization has always valued civil disobedience and the persistent pursuit of equality. They urged that we continue to pray for peace, justice, and equality. I could not agree more with these friends I have been blessed to learn from in our movement. Furthermore, I am thankful that we have a movement that provides us a meaningful opportunity to know people whose lived experience is so different from our own while sharing a common bond as blind people.

In the National Federation of the Blind, we know that blindness is not the characteristic that defines us or our future. Blindness is the thing that brings us together but it is not the thing that makes us want to stay together. That, in a word, is love.  We have love in our movement and we strengthen it by giving it. We have some wisdom and we strengthen it by continuing to seek greater understanding. We need more of both love and wisdom at every opportunity. Let’s continue to share love, hope, and determination with each other so that together we transform our dreams into reality. One of those dreams still left to be transformed is that of a nation where we can join together regardless of our unique characteristics. That is a dream I am struggling to help my own children understand so they may do better than I in making it come true. I speak for all of our national board members when I say we sincerely believe that the love and togetherness demonstrated in our movement can go a long way in contributing to that dream. It can be hard to remember that in this moment when so many of us are hurting, angry, frustrated, and scared. Let us continue to support each other in the Federation family. Let us avoid the harmful language that will only serve to divide us in this time. Let us go forward together, love one another, and change the world for the better.

Mark A. Riccobono

Please see and share our website on disability-specific issues related to COVID 19 in Colorado
Julie Reiskin,  Executive Director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
1385 S. Colorado Blvd. Suite 610-A   Denver*, CO 80222
Organizational Line 303-839-1775
If you do not have a seat at the table it is likely you are on the menu Elizabeth Warren (D).
Get involved in politics as if your life depends on it because it does!  Justin Dart (R)
*Denver is on the occupied land of the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne people

CCDC Statement on Masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2020: 

DENVER, Colorado—The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) is Colorado’s largest statewide, disability-led, disability rights organization. CCDC advocates for social justice on behalf of people with all types of disabilities (cross-disability). This Statement is made jointly by CCDC’s Executive Director, CCDC’s staff, and CCDC’s Civil Rights Legal Program. This Statement is not intended to be construed as legal advice. As set forth below, all information regarding how to proceed under the circumstances is made available by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

CCDC was founded 30 years ago to make sure that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became real in Colorado. To that end, we have been involved in both education and enforcement regarding the ADA. CCDC has been aggressive about requiring governments and businesses to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to enable people with disabilities to have equal access to any public accommodation. A public accommodation is any place where the public can engage in activities such as stores, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, golf courses, etc. Non-profits like CCDC’s office and meeting areas are public accommodations. (All information about what the ADA says is publicly available on the DOJ website The ADA also applies to state and local governments (including special districts), transportation, and employment. 

We have learned that people who object to requirements to wear masks or face coverings are advising followers to state that they have a disability and that it is a violation of the ADA to require that individuals wear a mask. There are individuals with disabilities who cannot use masks at all or who can but only with great difficulty. Securing a mask may be difficult to impossible for individuals who may not be able to get a mask on and off independently and lack constant support from a caregiver or other person and for individuals with facial anomalies. However, we are aware there are others invoking this rule without cause.

It is our position that businesses and governments ARE allowed to deny entrance to people who are not wearing masks. In fact, we encourage it.

Public accommodations must also protect their employees and other customers. In fact, the DOJ already has spoken on the issue of the fraudulent claims by people who simply do not want to wear a mask and claim they have a disability as the reason why. The DOJ position states the following: “The Department urges the public not to rely on the information contained in these postings and to visit for ADA information issued by the Department.” See *COVID-19 ALERT: Fraudulent Facemask Flyers* (DOJ COVID-19 ALERT). Furthermore, the ADA regulations in the section that governs public accommodations speak to this issue:

Sec. 36.208 Direct threat.

(a) This part [Title III of the ADA] does not require a public accommodation to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of that public accommodation when that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

(b) Direct threat means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

(c) In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, a public accommodation must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain: the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.

If a person claims that they are unable to use a mask, the public accommodation must make reasonable efforts to accommodate the customer in a different way. This must not involve requiring staff to take unsafe risks. A reasonable person can conclude that behaviors that are contrary to local health department guidelines are unreasonable and unsafe. Some examples of accommodations or modifications might include:

  • Telephone or video chat services
  • Curbside delivery
  • Allowing a substitute person to pick up and item with proper permission. This may include taking a credit or debit card number by phone and then allowing someone else to pick up the item with a special code
  • When possible and in some unique situations, delivering the good to the person outside of curbside delivery

CCDC recommends that businesses post a sign outside that says “Masks Required” and also provides a phone number and email address for someone to contact should they be unable to use a mask. Doing this will eliminate the need for an employee to have to debate the situation with an un-masked person.

“We want you to protect your employees. Some may have disabilities themselves, but more importantly, they are our neighbors, friends, and the essential workers that keep our community going. Why would anyone want to risk harming the people that they want to provide service to them?” Julie Reiskin, Executive Director 

Common Questions:

Can I ask the person what their disability is?

No, you cannot. You can ask why they cannot wear a mask, but it is irrelevant. You do not need to let them in.

Can I ask for proof of disability?

No. Generally, requiring an individual to prove a disability does not occur a complaint is filed and you are in court for an ADA lawsuit or before the DOJ for an administrative complaint. Remember, the person claiming a disability has the burden of proving their disability meets the strict definitions of the ADA to the court. If the individual who does not want to wear a mask does not have a disability but claims that they do and if the claim is fraudulent, the individual will lose in court. It is a risk. Fraudulent lawsuits have consequences. If someone asks for a modification of policy that is significant or maybe an undue burden, the public accommodation could ask for proof, but we recommend you avoid this and consult with an attorney before doing so. Having a condition or diagnosis does not necessarily mean that the person has a disability under the ADA. What meets the ADA definition of an individual with a disability is complicated and requires proof of a substantial limitation of a major life activity and more. All of this can be found on the DOJ website referenced above.

 What if the person has a note from their doctor?

That is irrelevant. Whether an individual is an individual with a disability is a legal definition, not a medical diagnosis.

How far must I go to provide services to this person?

A public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures. You need not fundamentally alter your business model or go to such extreme expense that it would cause your business undue hardship. A large business with branches would need to consider the entire company’s, not just one location’s, resources. Under no circumstances must you ever put your employees or customers in danger under the direct threat analysis.

What if my employee says they do not want to work near anyone who does not have a mask?

This is a reasonable request, and you should support this. Check with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for employee safety requirements. Also, you must follow state, city, or county orders that govern wearing a mask in a public location. You might violate the law by not wearing a mask. See also the DOJ COVID-19 ALERT referenced above.

What if the customer has a mask but it is hanging from their neck?

Instruct your staff to request that the customer secure the mask appropriately or leave. Confirm your staff knows to maintain appropriate social distancing restrictions of 6-feet as recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities.

What if someone has a visible disability and their mask falls off? Are you obligated to help the person put it on?

No, you are not required to provide personal services like this. If you or your staff want to do so you may offer and then listen to the individual as they instruct you on how to do this. However, any staff person who feels compromised or uncomfortable must be permitted to not provide this level of assistance. 

Specific disability issues:

While there appear to be people blithely making up disabilities, there are people with real disabilities, and the rule of reasonable modification of policies always applies with the caveats set forth above. 

Deaf/Hard of Hearing:

Very few Deaf people read lips as it is rare but sometimes effective. However, some people who are hard of hearing do use a combination of lip-reading and hearing aids to understand others. If you can have at least some employees use a mask with a clear plastic panel to make the mouth visible, that will be appreciated. A face shield might be appropriate under the circumstances. You should conduct research regarding available types of masks and face coverings to ensure they are effective for the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus.


If you have signage, please have Braille underneath.* Also, have available paper flyers in very large print (20 point font or higher) with the phone number to call for assistance. (Dial 711 for a Relay Operator)

Mental Health/Cognitive:

While some individuals may not be able to understand why they have to wear a mask or have extreme discomfort when something is over their mouth, the health risks of allowing people in who are not masked outweighs the benefit. Make sure not to challenge their experience or act like you do not believe them if they say they cannot wear a mask.


Some people have facial structures that make mask-wearing impossible or may be unable to secure a mask if it falls off. For most of these individuals, the risk of serious illness or death from contracting COVID-19 is quite high, particularly for employees or other customers who already have respiratory problems and/or other disabilities that compromise their immune systems and are likely to understand mask policies.


People with speech disabilities may be a bit harder to understand when wearing a mask. Feel free to ask them to repeat themselves if you do not understand. Most people with speech disabilities will be happy to repeat themselves. If they are unwilling to do so, they are not assisting you in the process of facilitating communication. Therefore, they should not be permitted to enter.

Perspectives from CCDC Staff with Disabilities

Michelle McHenry-Edrington Advocacy Coordinator and Air Force Veteran and her service dog Edgar
Michelle McHenry-Edrington Advocacy Coordinator and Air Force Veteran and her service dog Edgar

“I went into service because I wanted to protect my country and help others. I would never want to risk un-knowingly spreading this disease now even if my PTSD makes it harder to wear a mask. The mask makes me feel as though I am deployed again and in my decontamination suit.”

Michelle McHenry-Edrington Advocacy Coordinator and Air Force Veteran and her service dog, Edgar



Kevin Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director.
Kevin Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director

“As a quadriplegic with limited hand function, I cannot re-secure most masks if it slips off. I understand I may need to leave a store or find another way to shop. That is an inconvenience. However, as a quadriplegic with reduced breathing capacity and a compromised immune system, I believe it is very likely I would not survive if infected with COVID. As a result, I will do everything in my power to ensure that I have a mask on so I do not infect you.  It is a matter of simple respect and kindness for other people and should not be made a political issue or an issue of faking disability for getting an accommodation.”

Kevin Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director

Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing.
Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing.

“I know I am hard to understand sometimes. I am never offended if you ask me to repeat myself.”  

Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing

ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY, LET US REMEMBER! | A message from Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director

As many of us know, Memorial Day (formally known as “Decoration Day”) exists for the purpose of remembering, i.e., memorializing, those brave human beings who have died and fallen in combat to protect true and real liberties of this Great Nation! To all of them, so many of whom returned to our country as people with disabilities, on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, many veterans with disabilities are housed (basically warehoused) in veterans’ homes and are dying from the current pandemic at rates far higher than the general population of humans who have the ability to shelter at home. To those great veterans with disabilities and others warehoused in these institutions without any reprieve, on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, the current pandemic affects everyone in ways that none of us could ever imagine. However, people with disabilities who remain the most vulnerable population across the globe and yet who fight for justice with incredible courage and tenacity, on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

Image of Wade Blank, standing in before an American flag
Wade Blank, crusader for the rights of people with disabilities transitioning from their incarceration in nursing homes to their own homes and creating, alongside people with disabilities, the organization ADAPT

As many of us know, ADAPT, certainly one of the greatest and most powerful leaders in the disability rights community dating back to 1983 in Colorado with its roots dating back to 1973, when 19 young people with disabilities incarcerated in nursing homes for most of their lives, said no more and moved into their own apartments. Once in the community with other human beings, they realized there were many barriers — inaccessible public transportation, restaurants, stores, and so many other places. In discussing ADAPT, we cannot forget Wade Blank, a champion of social justice and social change who worked at Heritage House, the place of incarceration where our 19 friends and colleagues with disabilities (many who are no longer with us) were trapped against their will, who helped them in their insistence that they be in their homes and not nursing homes. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, so many people who are currently warehoused in nursing homes across this country and those who work in those nursing homes are dying at a rate far higher than the rest of us were able to shelter in our own homes as a result this pandemic and the fact that no assistance appears to be being provided. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, ADAPT went on to challenge Denver’s Regional Transportation District (“RTD”), the largest “public” bus system now including light rail and commuter rail services in the Denver metropolitan area. Of course, RTD did not think the “public” included people with disabilities. After countless meetings and negotiations between ADAPT members with disabilities and RTD that went nowhere the now-famous “Gang of 19” staged a two-day protest blocking one of the busiest intersections in downtown Denver of Colfax and Broadway, people with disabilities blocked buses with their bodies, getting out of their wheelchairs and lying in the street. This action eventually led to RTD making all of its buses have wheelchair lifts. Denver was the first city in the United States to do so as a direct result of this protest. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!


Plaque located at the site where the Gang of 19 protested on Colfax Ave. in Denver, Colorado
Plaque located at the site where the Gang of 19 protested on Colfax Ave. in Denver, Colorado


Image of protesters with disabilities who got out of their wheelchairs to block RTD buses in the 1984 “Gang of 19” protest
JUL 5 1978, JUL 6 1978 Demonstrators Sleep On the Job Four demonstrators sleep in the street Thursday morning after spending the night blocking two Regional Transportation District buses near the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street. They were among about 30 persons who maintained an overnight vigil to dramatize the need for greater accessibility to public transportation for the handicapped. The buses stopped and barricaded by about 30 persons early Wednesday, were freed Thursday morning. The barricade has served its purpose, said Wade Blank. Credit: Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)


As many of us know, ADAPT and so many people with disabilities, in the great tradition of protest movements for civil rights of Black people, women, the LGTB community and so many other human beings who sought equal treatment and civil rights under the law, those people with disabilities crawled up the United States Capitol steps, many abandoning their wheelchairs behind them in order to demonstrate the struggle of inaccessibility and unequal treatment to get Congress and President George H.W. Bush to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), on behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

Picture of eight-year-old Jennifer Keelan leading people with physical disabilities protesting the lack of accessibility on the March 12, “Capitol Crawl” (© AP Images)
Picture of eight-year-old Jennifer Keelan leading people with physical disabilities protesting the lack of accessibility on the March 12, “Capitol Crawl” (© AP Images)
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
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 Association of People with Disabilities (also pictured next to President Bush seated in his wheelchair)


As many of us know, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (“CCDC”) was formed by people with disabilities in 1990 bring the promises of the ADA to and ensure they were enforced in Colorado. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, CCDC, and solidarity with so many like-minded disability rights advocates and activists across the country and worldwide, with its mission to ensure social justice for people with disabilities of all kinds, has made major changes on the impact of the lives of people with disabilities in Colorado and throughout the nation. On behalf of CCDC, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, attorneys across the country and those who work for CCDC’s Civil Rights Legal Program have spent decades of our lives devoted to the simple principle that people with disabilities are people entitled to the same liberty and justice enjoyed by all human beings. It does not always take a village to solve a problem even though that is a good approach; often, unfortunately, it takes a lawsuit! On behalf of CCDC and all of the hundreds and maybe thousands of attorneys who understand that simple principle, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, CCDC in solidarity with disability rights groups throughout the country, are steering people with disabilities and those in power in the right direction, recognizing the humanity and quality of all people to maintain life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the face of this pandemic that is killing us for reasons that make no sense. On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, there are people in this country who seek to take advantage of those accommodations that are necessary in order to provide equality of opportunity for people with disabilities, but we reject and have exposed and stopped your inhumane attempts to do so. The last thing anybody claims they ever want to be is a person with a disability, but so many non-disabled people are willing to try to take advantage of the necessary accommodations people with disabilities need for equality. On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, there people today in this country who claim to have a disability as the reason for not wearing a mask to protect the health and safety of all of us, those with disabilities and those without. There may be legitimate disability-related reasons for not wearing a mask, but to those of you who are doing so illegitimately, we shame you. What you’re doing is despicable and will not be tolerated. On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

"mask loophole" meme that states "I am exempt from ALL REGULATION mandating face mask usage in public. Wearing a face mask poses a health risk to me. Under the ADA and HIPPA, I am NOT required to disclose my medical condition to anyone." The meme goes on to warn of financial penalties for businesses and provides a phone number for the Department of Justice.
ADA and HIPAA “mask loophole” meme

As many of us know, “The economic shutdown related to COVID-19 has complicated the lives of Colorado people with disabilities, who find their routines upset, their jobs at risk and their quest for affordable, accessible housing more difficult.” On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!

As many of us know, on this Memorial Day, often-called the unofficial “First Day of Summer,” “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around!”[Lyrics from “Life During Wartime.”© David Byrne, 1979. Talking Heads, Fear of Music album and featured in the 1984 film Stop Making Sense]  Our friends, our loved ones and our colleagues are dying in large numbers. The death toll in the United States will most likely reach 100,000 as of the end of this hallowed Memorial Day! On behalf of CCDC, once again, I say, LET US REMEMBER!


— Kevin W. Williams, Civil Rights Legal Program Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. Permission to share and distribute widely because we need to remember and continue in the proud tradition of disability rights activists all over the world and fix this calamity as soon as possible and save ourselves! We SHALL overcome!

Picture of Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director shown in front of banner that reads, “Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition: Nothing about us without us.”
Picture of Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director shown in front of
a banner that reads, “Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition: Nothing about us without us.”


A Stroke of Luck –By Julie Reiskin

As a frequent traveler who uses a power wheelchair I have a different perspective of luck…

On Monday  I was in Grand Junction for work with our amazing Rocky Mountain Health Plans Member Advisory Group –Tuesday morning I met with a couple of our CCDC members and was ready for my bus ride home—destined to leave around 1:20 pm.  The plan was to get home at reasonable hour as I had to leave early today (Wednesday) to go to Charleston South Carolina for Legal Services Corporation meetings.

I was SO excited because Greyhound finally printed tickets that have a little wheelchair on them when one indicates that they will be traveling with a wheelchair.   It took years for busses to be accessible at all, then it was even more years for them allow us cripples to buy tickets on line like everyone else.   Until now the tickets would not print in a way that showed wheelchair access was needed.   Leaving Denver is never a problem but every time I was to leave Grand Junction I had the same problem—the guy at the station would always tell me I “did it wrong” in terms of buying the ticket, tell me that I may or may not be able to get on the bus—that I would have to see if they had room.   This was always a huge stress.  When he would “allow” me on the bus it was always the local which stops four times, never the express for which I had bought a ticket.

So—I was thrilled to have an express ticket with a little wheelchair picture –he could not deny me now!!!   As I was getting ready to head over I noticed a new feature on the Greyhound website called “track my bus”.   I decided to check it out—just for fun.   My excitement ended when I saw the bus was 4 hours late.

I remembered there was the local route, the one I am usually forced to ride.  I go to the station (after a stop at my favorite candy store—they have a great licorice selection) and ask if I can get on the local.   I acknowledge my ticket is for the express and show him the ticket with the wheelchair—to my surprise he is nicer (maybe the letter from our legal program had something to do with it).   He says “if the lift works” I can get on the bus that will be on time—that will get me back to Denver at 6:30 instead of 5:40 but well before 11 pm which is when my scheduled bus will arrive.

I bite my tongue and do not say that the lift better be working and that they are supposed to check them regularly whether or not they have a passenger reserved ..and soon he tells me yes, I can get on this bus.     I get on and am pleasantly surprised by a wonderful driver who actually tells me that there is a rest stop in Vail and asks me if I will want to get out!!!  WOW—that almost never happens.   Wheelchair users are not supposed to need to use a bathroom or eat while traveling.   I actually do not need to get out but really appreciate the offer.  Then to make it even better he takes control of the bus and requires people to be quiet so I can get work done and do not have to listen to other people’s music, children, or cell phone related drama.

Can it get any better????

We cruise along—pick up people in Glenwood, Vail, Frisco, watch a great sunset, mountain scenery, and life is good.   Then we get to Georgetown and the bus sputters out.   After a few futile tries to get it going again the driver announces that we are having mechanical problems.   Immediately some grumbling….”you are not getting my business again” says someone from the back.    Really—I think—how many of us who travel Greyhound have a ton of other options?   I keep my mouth shut.

The driver tries to tell us that it will take some time but people decide that a bus should arrive in one hour—I knew that was not going to happen and tried to say so.  People stay relatively calm—I wonder if they will be able to use the lift to get me out.  The driver has to argue with Greyhound management somewhere to send a rescue bus.   After several phone calls he succeeds or so we think.

Greyhound does not send a rescue bus –but instead sends a mechanic who is tasked with trying to fix a bus, in the dark, in the rain, on a highway.  Yeah—right.  As we get to two hours people begin freaking out.    It is not too cold but not warm either—one definitely needs a coat on inside the bus and it gets colder with people going in and out for smoke breaks.   Several people start complaining loudly—and a couple start talking about how horrible this is and that “there are two handicapped people on the bus” and it is “negligent” that we are left without heat.   I guess I am one of the two –another guy is an amputee who has a manual wheelchair stored below the bus (his choice—there is room for two chairs).    I am about to protest but think better of it.   I figured that they would not send a new bus but instead have the bus that was four hours later stop and get us—and I knew that bus would be full —so realized maybe a mood on the bus of concern for us would be in our best interest.    If they are so concerned that they have to scream about it then they could not possibly justify the replacement bus refusing to allow us on—right?

Keeping my mouth shut in these situations is not a strong point and I am mildly impressed with my restraint.    People were resigned to missing their connections—but there were busses leaving at midnight they could catch.  A couple poor souls had flights to catch that they were not going to make.  I felt badly for them.   As people got more worked up—the mechanic worked in futility outside.   Our driver was terrific, he remained calm.  We all realized it was not his fault.   However the complaining continued and people started getting each other escalated.  Eventually someone decided they were going to call the police.  They did –the cops asked what he wanted them to do—he said he wanted them to bring us a space heater for the bus….right then another bus pulled up.  I was correct and it was that other bus that was four hours late.    That driver was NOT in a good mood.

Everyone except my fellow cripple, a couple guys and I get on the other bus.  One person comes back to tell us the bus is really crowded.   I worry…and wonder out loud if I will get on the bus.  “They have to let you on—they can’t just leave you” says the able bodied guy who was waiting.   I did not respond but thought of a colleague who was left for almost 24 hours in a rural mountain town while several busses went by and claimed to not have room—despite his prepaid ticket.    The nice driver finally came to me and said quietly—lets get you off this bus and I will make it work.    We get me off—and I wait outside while he goes in and talks to the second driver—they are in there a long time—and finally he comes out with a smile—VICTORY.   I  get on the bus and we are in business—several hours later but in business.   While others are pleased to finally be on a moving bus I am ecstatic.

I guess this means we have not in fact arrived—as a disability rights advocate it should be that exciting that I was not left on a mountain road or on a broken bus.      However I am still pleased that the other passengers were at least concerned and not arguing for us to be left or forming a little angry anti cripple mob—something that has happened in the past and that feels awful.    So—maybe we have made some progress—others understood we had a right to be on the bus!

In fact, we have made a lot of progress.   It was not too long ago when not every bus had a lift and when it would have been impossible for both busses to have a lift at all.   In those days there was a strict 48 hour advance notice even for emergencies.   People, including me, were regularly stranded in all sorts of places.   The bottom line is that stuff happens when one travels.   For people with disabilities when all we have to deal with is the “stuff” that happens to everyone it is a wonderful day!  The two “handicapped” people on the bus were the two that had the easiest time managing the disruption because to us inclusion—even inclusion in disruption—was wonderful.   The ADA does not guarantee us that things will always work—it does not guarantee us jobs, happiness or anything other than a level playing field to have the same experiences as everyone else.    When that happen’s it still feels like a stroke of luck.

Past Events: Video Recordings, Links & Resources 

Jump directly to the following recordings:

Lawsuit Adds Pressure on RTD to Drop Union Station Rule Changes

Denver artist Raverro Stinnett was at Union Station after attending a LoDo art opening, waiting for a train home early on the morning of April 20, 2018, when he was confronted by four security officers who threatened him and challenged him to a fight. Two of the guards, employed by contractor Allied Universal Security Services, led him to a bathroom and brutally assaulted him while another kept watch; all three later pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Stinnett was left with permanent brain injuries that, according to a lawsuit filed last week, “have completely upended his life.”

Continue to Westword Article

CALL TO ACTION: We Need 12% FMAP (Federal Medicaid Assistance Payment) Increase

Urgent Action Needed from You!

From Julie Reiskin, Executive Director


  • The FMAP formula is designed so that the Fed pays a lesser portion of Medicaid costs in states with higher per capita income relative to the national average.  Colorado until recently was a wealthier state.
  • FMAP rates have a statutory minimum of 50% and a maximum of 83%. For FY2019, regular FMAP rates range nationally from 50% – 76.39%, with Colorado at 50% and states like MS, WV, AL, KY, and NM at greater than 70%,
  • That means for every dollar of expense, the State of Colorado and the Fed each chip in 50 cents, despite how the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting our economy right now.  Colorado has tourism as a big part of our economy.
  • At the same time, Medicaid membership increases as our economy takes a downturn, creating even more expense for the State.

Federal Response:

  • The Federal Stimulus package did include a 6.2% increase in FMAP for all states.
  • Colorado and most other states asked for and received needed flexibility from the federal government to help us cope with the effects of the pandemic. THIS JUST ALLOWS US TO DO THE ACTIVITIES BELOW BUT DOES NOT GIVE US RESOURCES TO ACTUALLY DO THESE THINGS:  Some of our requests include:
    • Not kicking people off of Medicaid during the crisis
    • Relaxing prior authorization requirements so people do not risk not getting essential services
    • Increased funds for supports like cleaning and sanitizing in nursing facilities, dialysis centers, etc.
    • Paying retainer payments to programs that are essential for our most vulnerable but that cannot operate during the crisis like adult day care programs
    • Allowing paid time off for some direct care workers so they do not come work with vulnerable people when ill.


For Colorado to actually implement the most critical areas of flexibility requested, meet the needs of the Medicaid providers that include rural hospitals, personal care workers, people that provide direct support to those with cognitive disabilities, and other essential needs the FMAP needs to be at least 12%.   Therefore, we need our federally elected officials to actively fight for an increased FMAP in the next stimulus package currently in the work.  It must be at least 12%.  At the very least we need money that goes to the states to help with Medicaid costs.

This is NOT a partisan issue.  Medicaid Helps ALL of Colorado.   This could be a life and death issue for elderly and disabled Coloradans but will also affect many others including everyone who has either lost their job or has reduced hours.


Everyone should contact BOTH Senators and the Representative for YOUR area.  You should say that you want the package to include 12% FMAP or any other way to get money to state governments and why you care about Medicaid.  Include that you are a voter, and know and speak to many other voters!!    Share this request with others.

Colorado U.S. Senators


Colorado U. S. Representatives

  1. CD 1 Diana DeGette  Denver
  2. CD 2 Joe Neguse  Boulder to Ft. Collins and Eastern Mountains
  3. CD 3 Scott Tipton Entire Western Slope and Pueblo
  4. CD 4 Ken Buck Northern Colorado including Greeley
  5. CD 5 Doug Lamborn Colorado Springs to Salida
  6. CD 6  Jason Crow Aurora to Centennial
  7. CD 7 Ed Perlmutter  Most of Jefferson & Adams

Please get at least 5 other people to write –and ask them to do the same!

A map showing the congressional districts of Colorado.CD 1 Diana DeGette:  Denver  CD 2 Joe Neguse: Boulder to Ft. Collins and Eastern Mountains CD 3 Scott Tipton: Entire Western Slope and Pueblo CD 4 Ken Buck: Northern Colorado including Greeley CD 5 Doug Lamborn: Colorado Springs to Salida CD 6  Jason Crow: Aurora to Centennial CD 7 Ed Perlmutter: Most of Jefferson & Adams
Colorado Congressional Districts, 113th Congress

Southern Colorado Providers Say Coronavirus Impact Additive For Vulnerable Populations

CCDC In the News!

CCDC’s own Kristen Castor was interviewed as part of the following news report. Follow the link to read the entire article. Kristen’s section is below

Southern Colorado Providers Say Coronavirus Impact Additive For Vulnerable Populations

Kristen Castor
Non-attorney advocate with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, based in Pueblo

Image of members of the CCDC 2019 State Meeting.
Kristen Castor (second from right) works as a non-attorney advocate with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.
Kristen Castor (second from right) works as a non-attorney advocate with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

On Her Work With The Organization
My primary responsibility is to represent people who are appealing Medicaid denials at the administrative law judge level with the state. And then I do a lot of miscellaneous organizing things. Right now there’s a lot, because we’re trying to get our own membership informed about the virus, the precautions they can take and the benefits that they have.

Interestingly enough, most of the people with disabilities that we serve live below the poverty level. So, anything that deals with poverty often crosses over with what we need to look at for our population.

On Supports And Challenges Due To COVID-19
I’ve been so worried about people being stuck in their homes and not able to get food. That just terrifies me. I think people with severe disabilities or possibly very elderly people are at high risk of that happening. And so far, the city [of Pueblo] has just responded by creating more networks and trying to help that particular population.

[We’ve been discussing] the fear that if you need medical help outside of your disability, that you will be triaged, and basically murdered. That’s the fear we live with that constantly. And the reason is because all of us, if we have a severe disability and lived with it for a number of years, all of us have been told to our faces by various people that we should not be alive. I’ve been told that.

We’ve been fighting for the right to live in the community for the last 40 years. So every time we go around with a threat like this, we’re thinking, ‘Oh my god, I fought all my life to stay independent, and now I might lose it with a pen stroke.’ And people with disabilities, we’re just that–we’re people. It doesn’t mean we can’t contribute.

In The Face Of Ethical Aberrations In Several States Colorado Stands Strong Against Discrimination In COVID-19 Care

DENVERApril 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee developed Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) after collaboration with experts and communities. Governor Polis has authorized the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to enact the standards when or if necessary.  

The Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC), The Arc of Colorado, and over 140 organizations thank Gov. Jared Polis for ensuring that people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations receive equitable care under the CSC during the COVID-19 epidemic and other crisis situations.

Read the original article here.

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. 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.

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