Disability ID Symbol Available in Colorado
Overcoming disability discriminations with voluntary, government approved Disability ID Symbol and Database Legislation
DENVER, COLORADO July 2022 – Coloradans living with invisible disabilities who may not be able to effectively communicate with first responders or law enforcement officers in emergency or tense situations now have a voluntary option to choose to add a designated disability symbol identifier to their Colorado driver’s license or government identification card. As of July 1, 2022, the new Disability ID Symbol is now available which was signed into law by Colorado Gov. Polis in June of 2021. The law, HB21-1014, allows for qualified individuals living with disabilities due to a cognitive, neurological, mental health, sensory needs, chronic illness, chronic pain and/or physical disability to have this symbol on IDs to help de-escalate possible misunderstandings.
“80% of people with disabilities have an ‘invisible’ disability, one that cannot be readily seen because of using a visible assistive device such as a wheelchair, hearing aid, or other device,” says Jess Stainbrook, Executive Director of the Invisible Disabilities® Association (IDA) headquartered in Colorado. “In Colorado, the number of people living with invisible disabilities could fill Empower Field at Mile High almost 15 times!”
The symbol itself is an inclusive, easy to recognize icon which is being used in other states and countries around the world for representing people living with invisible disabilities in similar circumstances. “It is not uncommon for someone with a hidden or invisible disability to be told ‘Well, you look fine to me’ by someone in authority which often results in discrimination and even possible harm or death in tense situations,” says Stainbrook.
The symbol on a government ID provides more credibility to the person with the invisible disability, and a better opportunity for law enforcement officers and first responders to de-escalate a situation once they see the symbol and know that this person may need some help. In addition, IDA led the efforts for first responder and law enforcement training to be commissioned through HB21-1022 which was also signed into Colorado law at the same time.
The Disability ID Symbol was created by IDA in 2010 to provide a visible recognition of people who live with invisible disabilities, pain and illness. One of the purposes for the Disability ID Symbol is to provide governments with a licensed, protected, nationally recognized disability symbol offered for free in partnership with IDA. The Disability ID Symbol may be used in conjunction with the Wheelchair icon, which denotes the need for accessibility for a disabled person. In order to receive the Disability ID Symbol on a government issued Driver’s License or ID, medical verification may be required.
“Having the Disability ID on a government issued ID in Colorado, hopefully provides a means for better communication with law enforcement. Although it does not provide special privileges such as a person might receive with an Accessible Parking Placard. ” says Stainbrook. “All of these efforts are voluntary, and the symbol may be removed at any time by the user upon request.”
The Disability ID Symbol law includes a database where information can be stored about a vehicle and its potential passengers. The ability to include information about passengers’ disabilities in the vehicle registration field will hopefully give parents of children with disabilities some peace of mind. “If I become incapacitated in an accident, upon running my license plate, the officers will have the information that my child has autism and is non-verbal and can get them any help they need,” says Ali Thompson, a 20-year law enforcement officer and the mother of two children with special needs. There is also in development a new beacon system and mobile app for law enforcement agencies that will notify first responders if they are within 100 feet of a person with a disability.
The Invisible Disabilities® Association was founded by Wayne Connell, IDA’s President and CEO, in 1996 out of the desire to educate friends and family about his wife, Sherri’s debilitating invisible disabilities. IDA partners with a multitude of technology leaders, educational and non-profit organizations, government entities and businesses to continue to lead in the efforts of helping people living with disabilities. For more information on registering for a disability ID Symbol on your Colorado driver’s license or government ID, go to: http://Colorado.NationalDisabilityID.org