Accessibility Project

Making Real the Promises of the ADA.

Cover image for the Accessibility Project. A multicolored wall has a door on the right which is open. Through the door you can see a collection of people of different races, ages, and abilities.

Art by Emily Harvey.

Disability is a mighty catalyst for change in the world. Follow and join the disability community as we lead, in our activist lives, as we fight for justice for all.

Carrie Ann Lucas

Mission

We strive for a world in which ableism and the oppressive systems it sustains (racism, white supremacy, hetero and cis patriarchy) are fully dismantled. A world in which all disabled people, Black, Indigenous, Brown and LQBTQI people thrive and are free of harm.

We believe that the fight for disability justice must be intersectional or will not be a fight for justice at all. We are committed to bringing the promise of a fully accessible and equal world to all disabled people, including those most frequently overlooked in disability and civil rights spaces due to intersecting forms of oppression. We acknowledge that the fight for equality, equity, and access has often ignored people with “invisible” disabilities, BIPOC with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ people with disabilities.

We recognize that the movements for abolition and disability justice are intertwined. For example, the fight to de-institutionalize disabled people from psychiatric hospitals, and similar locked settings, is anti-carceral. Similarly, the fight against racist policing which targets Black disabled people most harshly is anti-ableist. We must use strategies that anticipate implications across systems, always pushing against reforms that would ultimately uphold them.

With this understanding, and the knowledge that disability justice cannot be achieved solely through the legal system, we commit to using the tools of litigation, education and coalition building to contribute to this struggle.

How AP Helps

Systemic Litigation

Systemic Litigation to bring forth systems-change litigation that is movement centered and which emphasizes an intersectional approach to disability rights. To be movement centered we will work not only with our clients, but also with the broader community that will be impacted by litigation and ensure that the perspectives of those most often marginalized in litigation and disability work are heard.

Individual Advocacy

Individual Advocacy to provide individual advocacy through technical assistance, the fast-advocacy program and individual representation. We understand that system-change litigation can often be a long and arduous process and individual advocacy can serve as a form of harm reduction while engaging in long-term struggles.

Education, Power and Coalition Building

Education, Power and Coalition Building to share knowledge and resources to aid communities in building power and provide individuals with self-advocacy tools. Lawyers and legal advocates are but one piece in the fight against ableism, our unique access to resources, legal knowledge and the legal system must be amply shared with the communities and individuals we fight along with. To build coalition with organizations, communities, and individuals who share our mission, with particular attention to partnerships which offer perspectives and strategies different from ours. We recognize the interrelatedness of movement work but also recognize our own limits, and hope to always learn from others towards the realization of justice.

Accessibility Project Leadership

Pilar Gonzalez Morales, Director of CREEC’s Accessibility Project, has a background in disability justice. Her work with the Accessibility Project fights to make real the promises of the ADA while also expanding into new sites of accessibility and accountability. Previously a Senior Staff Attorney within CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project, Pilar focuses on decarceration work at all levels, from jails to detention centers to mental health hospitals. She strongly advocates for the use of an intersectional framework within the disability rights movement to ensure that people of color, LGBTQI, immigrants and other often underserved communities benefit from and lead the fight for the civil rights of all people with disabilities. 

Read more about Pilar.

Selected Casework

Increasing the Accessibility of Cities

CREEC investigates, negotiates, and monitors cities’ compliance with the ADA’s requirements for accessible curb ramps. Consent decrees negotiated by CREEC and co-counsel require cities to install and remediate thousands of ADA compliant curb ramps over multi-year periods. Check out this video about installation activities in Portland, Oregon.

Videophones and Other Effective Communication in Prison

CREEC sued the Colorado Department of Corrections, resulting in an order requiring the Department  to provide videophones for Deaf prisoners. Read more information about this case. CREEC is currently litigating a case against the Tennessee Department of Correction challenging its failure to provide effective communication — including videophones and sign language interpreters — for Deaf prisoners, and we are investigating several other prison systems. 

Full Enjoyment of Stadiums and Arenas for Deaf People and People Who Use Wheelchairs

CREEC has brought and settled a number of cases increasing the accessibility of sporting venues for disabled people, including wheelchair access and open captioning for Deaf and hard of hearing fans. 

Captioning of Public Content on University Websites

Following two successful settlements, captioning is now guaranteed for most online content at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. CREEC is interested in investigating other university or government websites that fail to caption their online video and audio content. 

Accessible Hotel Transportation

While abled people can easily rent a car or use a hotel van while traveling, accessible vans are astronomically expensive and hotels are woefully far behind in providing required accessible transportation. CREEC has brought and settled several cases requiring hotels to provide accessible vans for guests who use wheelchairs. 

Fair Housing

With longtime experience working on fair housing cases, CREEC’s newest housing discrimination investigation focuses on discrimination by housing providers of people participating in medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs.

Selected Presentations and Articles

Hearing Loss of America, Boulder Chapter

In April 2021, Amy Robertson presented to HLAA’s Boulder Chapter on the ADA rights of people who are hard of hearing, as well as CREEC’s Fast Advocacy for Communication program.

Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind

In March, 2021, Amy Robertson and Kyle Neumann presented to the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind on the grant CREEC received from the Colorado Health Foundation to investigate effective communications in healthcare. 

Accommodations and the Discovery Process

In January, 2021, Martie Lafferty presented on “Accommodations in Litigation: The Discovery Process” at a CLE program sponsored by Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee and Social Law. 

Fall 2020 Civil Rights Insider 

Martie Lafferty, Director of CREEC’s Accessibility Project, was invited by the “Civil Rights Insider” to write an article about CREEC’s Fast Advocacy for Communication (FAC) program.    

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

In October 2020, Amy Robertson presented on the basics of Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to the legal department of the NAACP LDF. 

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado

In October 2020, we attended the [virtual] National Federation of the Blind of Colorado’s (NFBCO) annual conference. We were exhibitors there and discussed CREEC’s recent work with attendees from around the state.

Carrie Ann Lucas Disability Advocacy Training

In February 2020, we presented at the Carrie Ann Lucas Disability Advocacy Training, teaching the basics of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act to lawyers and advocates representing parents in Colorado’s child welfare system. 

Lincoln Memorial University

Also in March 2020, we spoke to students at Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law about Title II of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

DeafNation Expo

In October 2019, we presented at the DeafNation Expo in Nashville, TN about the legal rights of people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, deaf disabled, or deafblind and about the ways CREEC can help, including through our Fast Advocacy for Communication (FAC) program.

Upcoming Activities

  • April 2021 Speaking to Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee (AIMHiTN) staff about simplified language and disability sensitivity.
  • May 2021 Hosting a table at Tennessee Disability MegaConference.