March 29, 2022

HOUSE PASSES TWO BILLS TO PROTECT WHEELCHAIR USERS

DENVER, CO – Two bills to protect the rights of wheelchair users and improve adaptive features in rental vehicles today passed the House.

“My wheelchair provides more than mobility, it’s a critical part of my health and safety,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton. “I’m proud we’ve passed two accessibility rights bills that affirm the rights of wheelchair users. These bills focus on transparency and accountability for providers so we have the right to repair our chairs in a timely manner and rent a car that’s accessible for us. The accessibility issues faced by the community that lives with a disability are real, challenging and place us and our families at risk. We’re taking the lead on breaking down accessibility barriers so we can create a safer, more equitable and healthier Colorado.”

“We’re looking out for the rights of Coloradans who use wheelchairs,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “Many wheelchair users, especially in rural Colorado, face long waits and unpredictability when it comes to repairs and routine maintenance on their mobility devices. Our bill would expand repair options beyond the manufacturing companies, saving Coloradans who use wheelchairs money and time. Mobility isn’t something to take for granted and wheelchair users in Colorado deserve the freedom to repair their mobility aids.”

HB22-1031, sponsored by Representatives David Ortiz and Brianna Titone, passed by a vote of 44 to 21. This bill would require powered wheelchair manufacturers to provide parts, software and tools to independent repair providers and wheelchair owners. Typically, wheelchair owners and users can only seek repair, modification and maintenance of their wheelchair from manufacturers. This market monopolization drives up costs for Coloradans and leaves them without their mobility device for longer. Under this bill, independent repair providers and owners would have the tools and manuals to perform regular maintenance, diagnostic or repair service themselves. This will save Coloradans money and allow them to get their mobility devices repaired sooner.

HB22-1253, also sponsored by Representative Ortiz, passed by a vote of 42 to 23. This bill would require rental car companies to provide leasers with an online option to secure a vehicle with adaptive equipment such as hand controls, pedal extenders, left foot accelerators and spinner knobs upon request. This bill would also protect disabled vehicle leasers by allowing the recovery of damages if rental car companies violate the adaptive equipment requirement in the bill.