Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Disability Coalition Group Files Suit Over Arts Access

See this article, which begins:

Six members of a coalition for the disabled are suing Denver, saying its theater complex doesn't comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"We've been working with the city on these issues for years, but they haven't yielded to making any concrete changes," said Kevin Williams, legal program director for the the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition.

"We're at the point of exasperation. These guys recognize there is a problem but won't recognize the solution."

Michelle Lucero, deputy city attorney, said she has not seen the complaint and would wait to respond.

Jack Finlaw, city director of arenas and facilities, said the city has been negotiating with the group for months.

"We, the designers and the contractors had sat down with the CCDC to find an independent authority to work with (them)," he said. "If we find something wrong, we'll fix them. They walked away from that extended hand, and that's disappointing to me."

But Williams said that the coalition and the city were only talking about hiring the outside expert to address the Ellie Caulkins Opera House problems.

"We have all these other problems, and we've written how many letters over how many years and nothing's changed," he said.

The 35-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court Monday, accuses the city of Denver, the Center for Performing Arts, Opera Colorado, Colorado Ballet Company and Colorado Symphony Association of not complying with the ADA.

The complaint, which is filed on behalf of six members of the coalition, claims that DCPA venues - the Temple Hoyne Buell Theater, Boettcher Concert Hall, the Stage and the Ellie Caulkins Opera House - do not provide access to the disabled.

They complaints include:

Wheelchair seating is not available in established locations or seats are blocked by camera, sound and lighting equipment.

Sign language interpreters are not available for performances.

Disabled van access is unavailable at every level of the parking garage.

Disabled access is not available at will-call windows.


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