DENVER — A group of Coloradans who are blind met at the state Capitol Monday to push for more legal protections in the state.
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado annually holds its Day at the Capitol event so members can meet with state legislators and staffers to advocate for policies that will help them thrive in their daily lives.
“We are here to talk to the senators and the representatives about different issues that are important to us and to get different bills that we would like to see passed,” member Pippi Adams told Denver7. “This is the first one I’ve been able to participate in, so I’m excited. This is important to me. This is a huge part of why I’m a member of the National Federation of the Blind, is advocacy and to get out there and to help make a difference and make a change.”
Four specific policy objectives were the focus for NFB members for this year’s Day at the Capitol event. They are focused on the passage of a bill that would require pharmacies to provide accessible prescriptions with either braille or digital instructions. The technology is widely available but not widely implemented, members told Denver7.
“I take medicines myself, but also my daughter has to have medicine,” Adams said. “And just to be able to know what time, how many doses a day I’m supposed to give her, how many milliliters… To have that information in braille or in an accessible format myself and not to have to rely on somebody else, it’s so important.”
NFB members also have budgetary priorities. Funding cuts have reduced the availability of service providers that assist in daily tasks. Members are calling for an audit of money allocated by the Joint Budget Committee to ensure that funds are available in the future.
Finally, members who use guide dogs approached lawmakers with a special request. As Denver7 has reported in the past, they are often turned away by rideshare drivers, even when they disclose their guide dogs in their in-app profiles. Since many blind Coloradans rely on rideshare services to get around, they want to see a legislative hearing to get answers from providers and find a long-term solution.
NFB member Nathan Hecker told Denver7 he was denied a ride just hours earlier as he was trying to make his way to the Capitol.
“It’s difficult because when you’re sighted, you can just jump in a vehicle and go to work or go to the store or wherever you’re at. It’s to the point where we have to pretty much plan trips. Now, I have to leave places earlier,” Hecker said. “It can be very frustrating. I can get angry sometimes. And it’s just, it’s just hard.”
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado has seen previous legislative victories. In 2019, the Voting Rights For Voters With Disabilities bill was signed into law, guaranteeing the availability of accessible ballots for those who are blind or have low vision. The bill passed with no votes in opposition.
“When we do these things, I don’t even pay attention to who’s a Republican or a Democrat. They all seem receptive enough,” said NFB member Tim Keenan. “The slogan of the NFB is to live the life you want to live. And so, our goal is to make things accessible, ensure everything’s accessible to everyone so people can live and do whatever they choose to do.”