Film, discussion to highlight impact of Americans with Disabilities Act

Americans with Disabilities Act is partly rooted in Denver

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A film and panel discussion on the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act will be available for free streaming through a partnership between I Am Denver and Denver Film.

The virtual film screening will show the film, “30 Years Later: How the ADA Enabled Denver’s Disability Community to ‘Boldly Go Where Everyone Else Has Gone Before.’”

The virtual screening and panel discussion will be available beginning at 7 p.m. July 23 through 11:45 p.m. July 26. It will be accessible on Denver Film’s Virtual Cinema platform, available to screen at denverfilm.org or by downloading the Denver Film app for Roku TV or Apple TV.

“30 Years Later” tells the story of how, on July 5, 1978, a group of men and women known as the “Gang of 19” blocked buses owned by the Regional Transportation District in Denver’s busiest intersection to call attention to the need for adequate wheelchair-accessible transit. “The action was among those nationwide that eventually led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990,” states a news release.

In 2020, I Am Denver — which is a project of the Denver Office of Storytelling — conducted interviews to highlight the impact the ADA has had on the community and the role Denver activists played in fighting for the civil rights of people living with disabilities, states a news release. The interviews took place virtually and socially-distanced during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also coordinated with both hearing and Native sign language interpreters to ensure the video’s accessibility.

The prerecorded panel discussion about the impact of the ADA delves into the ongoing struggle for accessibility. Panelists are disability rights advocate André van Hall; Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Executive Director Julie Reiskin; actor, producer and advocate Stewart Tucker Lundy; and deaf interpreter Chelsea Lee. The panel is moderated by civil rights attorney Emily Harvey and Access Gallery’s executive director Damon McLeese.

“In 1978, Denver was a fraction of the size it is now and didn’t often make national news. But when 19 brave souls climbed out of their wheelchairs and laid down at Broadway and Colfax, the nation finally paid attention to the Mile High City and the cause of accessible transportation,” said Denver’s Chief Storyteller Rowena Alegría in a news release. “That action helped build momentum for the ADA, which has changed all of our lives forever. This I Am Denver story — and a new and forthright panel discussion — are a must watch for those who care about true equality in Denver and beyond.”

The virtual film screening and panel tickets are free, with a suggested donation to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. To learn more about the event or reserve tickets, visit this link.

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