Podcast: Disability Awareness and Community Interactions

In Episode 3 of the Real Empowerment Podcast, a panel of people with disabilities discusses funny, interesting, and head-scratching interactions they’ve had with the public.

  • Hear about the time a woman took Tim Ashley, who uses a wheelchair, on an unexpected spin through a parking lot.
  • Find out how Daniel Ratcliff responds when others question whether he’s really blind.
  • Learn how Elle Livengood, who is Deaf, is greeted almost every time she steps off a plane.
  • Listen to the surprising reaction Becca Michael got from a DMV worker in response to her prosthetic eye.

The panel will also discuss the best ways to interact with people with disabilities and how to provide accessibility so that everyone can feel welcome.

To listen to the podcast, click below.

For more information on disability awareness or individual advocacy, contact The IC at 719-476-8181.


Know Your Rights With Your Service Animals – Part 2

by Nikki Stewart

Colorado Assistance Animal Law- Part 2


In the second part of our “Know Your Rights With Your Service Animal” series we take a look at the Colorado Assistance Animal Law.


Where does the ADA allow my animal access?

Access for service animals and emotional support/assistance animals permitted with penalties for misrepresenting a pet as a service or support animal:

  • Public places
  • Housing (except single family residence or occupants who rent, lease or furnish for compensation one room in a residence)
  • Employment

What is a Service Animal?

A dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.


Can I be charged fees for allowing access to my service or support animal?

No, unless the dog causes actual damage; service animals exempt from licensing fees.


Can my animal be denied because of breed?

Not mentioned in the Colorado Revised Statues


Can my animal be denied based on fears or allergies of others?



What is a valid denial of my animal?

Only has provision for employment: where the animal’s presence creates undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense)




What happens if someone misrepresents an animal as a service animal?
When a person intentionally misrepresents entitlement to an animal as an assistance animal charges ranging from a petty offense to a misdemeanor can be filed with progressive fines ranging from $25 – 500.


Who is responsible for enforcement?


Colorado Office of the Attorney General

130 Broadway

10th Floor

Denver, CO  80203

720-508-6000  |  coag.gov


Looking for more information for service animals?

Part 1: American’s with Disabilities Act

Part 2: Colorado Assistance Animal Law

Part 3: Fair Housing Act

Part 4: Air Carrier Access Act

Know Your Rights With Your Service Animals – Part 1

by Nikki Stewart

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Part 1


In the state of Colorado, we have four laws which address service animals. We will cover each of these laws as an overview within this series. It is important when owning a service animal to fully understand your rights and how each of these laws affect you personally. The most well-known and talked about of the four is the Americans with Disabilities Act. While this law covers far more than the topic at hand, it’s details regarding the use and rights of service animals are clear.


Where does the ADA allow my animal access?

Access for service animals permitted:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Public housing
  • Shelters
  • Student housing
  • Public and private schools
  • Transportation
  • State and local government employment
  • Private employment with 15 or more employees
  • Private businesses including sales and leasing offices
  • Telecommunications


Can I be charged fees for allowing access to my service or support animal?

No, unless the dog causes actual damage


Can my animal be denied because of breed?



Can my animal be denied based on fears or allergies of others?



What is a valid denial of my animal?


  • Not under control
  • Not housebroken
  • Determination following individual assessment that the animal is a direct threat to health or
    safety of others
  • Type, size, weight of horse
  • In the workplace when the presence of the animal creates undue hardship of direct threat
  • MUST offer opportunity to obtain goods/service without the animal present


What happens if someone misrepresents an animal as a service animal?

No provisions


Who is responsible for enforcement?


U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Civil Rights Division

Disability Rights Section – NYA

Washington, DC  20530

800-514-0301   |  ada.gov

Innovative CNA Training Program Opens Doors for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Deaf & Hard of Hearing CNA class photo When it comes to employment opportunities for the d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing (d/D/HoH) community, breaking into the medical field can be tough. “But it’s actually a great fit,” says Rebecca Hull, who helps coordinate the Certified Nursing Aide Training Program (CNATP) at The Independence Center (The IC).

“The medical field is very visual; half of the job is just paying attention to details,” she says. “People who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing are usually exceptionally observant and in tune to visual cues that others might miss.”

That’s one of the reasons the staff at the CNATP decided to try something new. During June 2019, they offered d/D/HoH students the chance to complete the coursework with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter in attendance.

Another reason is to help address a growing need for qualified RNs and Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs). These professionals are already in short supply at hospitals and other care facilities. And, as the population continues to age, this need will only rise. By 2060, the number of Americans age 65+ is projected to grow to 98 million. In Colorado alone, that age group is expected to double to 1.7 million by 2050.

While hospitals and other caregiving facilities may need to provide certain work accommodations, hiring a CNA with hearing loss has many other potential benefits. Individuals in a hospital or care facility who are d/D/HoH can become isolated or unable to make their needs understood, resulting in poor physical and mental health. By having someone on staff who can communicate with their d/D/HoH residents or patients, medical professionals and facilities can provide better health care.


As one of the first opportunities of its kind in the country, numerous people across the U.S. expressed interest in participating. While most of this year’s class is from Colorado, one student travelled from Maryland to participate. Originally from Sri Lanka, he plans to take the skills he learns back to his home country where there is an even greater need.


“This is just the sort of out-of-the-box thinking that The Independence Center does. By offering training to non-traditional groups such as people who are d/Deaf or speak other languages, we’re opening doors for people who want to work in their community,” said Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center.


For more information about the CNA Training Program, call 719-648-1020 or CLICK HERE.

Podcast: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

In Episode Two of the Real Empowerment Podcast, The IC’s Daniel Ratcliff discussed inclusive emergency preparedness with Sadie Martinez, the Access and Functional Needs Coordinator for the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, and Sierra Cortez, Community Advocacy Coordinator for The IC.

The trio covered a variety of topics including:

  • The definition of emergency preparedness.
  • What is a good emergency plan?
  • Why emergency plans are different for everyone.
  • The C-MIST model of emergency preparedness.
  • How emergency preparedness differs on the state and local levels.
  • Where to find resources to create an emergency plan.

To listen to the podcast, click below.

If you’d like more information about inclusive emergency preparedness, contact Sierra at 719-471-8181, ext. 169 or email her at scortez@the-ic.org.