Disabilities

Editor's Note: If you're a Walmart greeter — or know someone who is — and would like to share your story with NPR, please reach out to us at tech@npr.org.

If you ask John Combs what his biggest worry is, he'll say: "How will I feed Red?"

Red is actually white. He's a labradoodle rescue, just tall enough for Combs to pet if he reaches over the armrest of his wheelchair. Combs, 42, has cerebral palsy. He has difficulty speaking. But he has no difficulty saying the line most Americans have heard at least once: "Welcome to Walmart!"

Dance Express
Dance Express

In 1989, Mary Elizabeth Lenahan helped found Dance Express. The Fort Collins troupe was unique particularly in its focus on being accessible to everyone. Now, as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary, the program is looking at its next steps.

Dance Express was created to give people with disabilities such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy a way to access to the arts and performance opportunities, Lenahan said.

Colorado ranked 27th in the nation for services provided to residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, known collectively as IDD.

The Case for Inclusion 2019 ranks states on policies and programs that provide support to help individuals with IDD lead more independent and productive lives. The report, compiled by the ANCOR Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy, scored states on five factors including promoting independence and keeping families together.

While members of the band Beethoven’s Nightmare can’t hear the instruments they’re playing, that doesn’t stop them from rocking out. Touted as the world’s first and only deaf rock band, the Los Angeles-based group will play a special concert Jan. 4 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

“Music is a universal language, and rock ‘n’ roll speaks to all of us,” said Mark Heiser, Denver Performing Arts Complex venue director.

Courtesy of Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheater is instituting new ticketing and seating procedures to improve access for fans with disabilities and to reduce ticket fraud.

Beginning with the 2018 concert season, seats in the first four rows -- including the handicapped-accessible section -- must be used by the ticket purchaser. Officials say those seats are the most likely to be purchased by ticket bots and then resold at higher prices on the secondary market.

Courtesy of NBC

Colorado native Mandy Harvey didn’t imagine herself competing on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent” for a variety of reasons.

There was her constant battles with stage fright and her tendency towards being an introvert -- and her complete hearing loss 10 years ago. But as an ambassador for the Fort Collins-based group No Barriers USA, a nonprofit that encourages those with disabilities to tackle adversity, the show proved to be a challenge worth taking on.

“When the opportunity came up to audition, (my friends and family reminded me) ‘Well, what’s the worst that can happen?’” Harvey said.

Office of U.S. Senator David Perdue

During the third day of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on a Colorado case involving an autistic teenager and the quality of education he received in the Douglas County School District. The ruling rejected a key standard that Gorsuch had observed in previous decisions, and proved to be an unexpected way to keep the Colorado judge on his toes.

Courtesy of Boulder Blind Cafe

In 2007, Boulder singer-songwriter Brian Rocheleau -- better known as Rosh -- was on tour when he happened upon a unique cafe in Iceland.

After ordering a coffee outside, he was handed a braille-printed card and a cane before being ushered into a pitch black room.

“It was really loud and eventually I bumped into a table and I asked the people sitting there if there was an empty chair available,” Rosh said. “They all said, ‘We don’t know!’”

It was the first time Rosh had to find his way in the dark, but it would be far from the last.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

Erin Finnell stands up in front of the class and calls on a student.

“What are you doing this weekend, CJ?” Finnell asks.

“I’m just going with my boyfriend to the movies and we’re just going to movie hop,” CJ says. CJ talks a lot about her boyfriend in class, which isn't unusual for a high schooler. Except CJ isn’t a a typical student. She isn’t even real.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

Blind since birth, there’s nothing worse for 8-year-old Chloe Poston than being at a museum where all the signs say ‘Do Not Touch.’

A curious child, Poston asks lots of questions and wants to be a doctor someday. The best way for her to learn is hands on -- an opportunity the Denver Art Museum recently gave her. The Lakewood third-grader got to walk right past those ‘Do not touch’ signs and actually handle some of the art. Well, sort of.

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