Federal accessibility law continues to evolve 27 years later

A 9NEWS viewer you may recognize has had it with businesses and others not following federal law.

AURORA - As a result of opening her self-described big mouth, Kristin Hopkins agreed to a new interview with 9NEWS Thursday.

If you Google her, it might make you say things like “Oh, it’s her!” and “I can’t believe she survived that?” and quite possibly, “What the hell happened?!”

A little more than three years ago, Hopkins’ car plunged off a mountain for reasons she still doesn’t understand. She was trapped inside the car for six days before someone found her and helped her get to the hospital. She lost both her legs below the knees.

ORIGINAL REPORTWoman missing for days found alive in wrecked car

Hopkins still says she doesn’t know how she made it or why, other than the simple powerful will to live.

“The will to see my kids again,” she said.

But that’s not the reason for a visit from 9NEWS. Hopkins wrote us an email Thursday, voicing her frustration with lack of ADA compliance by businesses and people.

From parking in handicapped spots, to parking too close to them, so people with disabilities can't get out. From dealing with concert goers buying up accessible seating they don't need, to just trying to go to the store.

All are issues Hopkins is dealing with in her new life.

“Unless you put yourself in that person's shoes you really don't understand how things aren't as easy as people think they are,” she said. “You kind of adapt, ‘oh, it's going to be like that.’ You shouldn't have to be.”

The federal accessibility law has been on the books for 27 years, yet hundreds of lawsuits are still filed each year.

A Civil Rights office under Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies handles complaints from the public on discrimination involving housing, employment and other public spaces like stores. That office has seen complaints increase in the last 15 years.

They attribute the increase in complaints to more people understanding their rights under the law. They also believe Colorado’s growing population and growing aging population mean there are more people with disabilities in Colorado.

The newest battlefront on the ADA may come on the internet, more specifically improving compliance with websites.

Last month, a court ruled against a popular grocery chain in the South over its website. The court said Winn Dixie’s website needs to more accessible to people with disabilities, especially those who are blind using screen readers.

Hopkins says she’s adaptable, literally and figuratively. But she said she reached out to 9NEWS because “she’d had enough.” She doesn't see herself as an advocate but doesn’t mind raising her voice.

“If it would help, heck yeah,” she said.

The issue of access to handicapped seating at concerts has been covered by 9NEWS extensively.

People with disabilities and their friends or family attending events are supposed to be the only people who buy ADA seats, however, that isn’t always the case.

The problem is that a person’s disability isn’t always visible, and venue employees can’t go around asking patrons to prove they belong in those seats. A disability lawyer told 9NEWS in December that the only question a venue can ask is whether someone in the group has a qualifying disability.

Compounding the issue is that some third-party sellers don’t inform buyers that the seats they are buying are ADA.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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