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New efforts underway to increase disability access at the State Capitol

Representative David Ortiz, who sits in a wheelchair, speaks into a microphone surrounded by people behind him and a sign language interpreter beside him in a room at the State Capitol.
Lucas Brady Woods
Rep. David Ortiz announces a slate of five bills dealing with accessibility for people with disabilities on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. They include expanded access to government buildings and ensuring sports equipment for the disabled is covered by health insurance.

State lawmakers introduced a package of five bills Wednesday to expand disability access in Colorado.

Rep. David Ortiz is one of the lawmakers behind the package. He’s also the first state lawmaker to use a wheelchair. While serving in the military in Afghanistan, a helicopter crash left Ortiz paralyzed.

"For far too long Coloradans and Americans with a disability have been overlooked," Ortiz said. "I'm saying this as a person that has lived as an able-bodied individual for 30 years of my life."

One of the bills would require 15% of new residential construction to be wheelchair accessible if the residence contains four or more units. Another bill wants to make all government buildings fully accessible within six years, including the Senate and House Chambers at the State Capitol.

Other efforts would improve access to courts and ensure sports equipment for the disabled is covered by health insurance.

The bills will undergo legislative committee hearings and, if approved, will be considered by the General Assembly.

I’m the Statehouse Reporter at KUNC, which means I help make sense of the latest developments at the Colorado State Capitol. I cover the legislature, the governor, and government agencies.
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