Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House Attracts Ire of Disabled Groups

Classic Arts News   Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House Attracts Ire of Disabled Groups
A group working to ensure the rights of the disabled filed a lawsuit against the city of Denver yesterday, saying that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, which includes the new Ellie Caulkins Opera House, doesn't meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

The complex also houses Opera Colorado, Colorado Ballet Company, and Colorado Symphony Association. The coalition is asserting that wheelchair seating is not available in established locations, seats are blocked by equipment, sign language interpreters are not available for performances, wheelchair lifts are cramped, disabled van access is unavailable at every level of the parking garage, and disabled access is not available at will-call windows.

Carrie Ann Lucas and her two daughters, who all use wheelchairs, told Denver-based CBS4 News, "That they didn't consult with people in the disability community was the first problem and that they just didn't design it well for access."

Jack Finlaw, director of Denver Theaters and Arenas, defended the complex. "We're delighted that our facilities are welcoming and accessible," he said. "My sense is the majority of people who come who have disabilities really enjoy these facilities and the show."

Kevin Williams, legal program director for the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, told the Rocky Mountain News that his group has been working with the city for years to no avail. "We're at the point of exasperation. These guys recognize there is a problem but won't recognize the solution."

Finlaw told the paper that the opera house, which opened last fall, is still working on how to address the needs of the disabled.

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