Some Colorado IDs will soon have a new mark for ‘hidden’ disabilities

Courtesy of the Colorado Department of Revenue
An example of a Colorado drivers license with a disability identifier.

People with less-visible disabilities like autism or deafness can now disclose those on their state IDs and vehicle registrations. 

The subtle marker is designed to help communicate important information to first responders like police officers and EMTs in a discreet way, Division of Motor Vehicles officials say. The new identifiers were mandated under a 2021 law.

Bill sponsor Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, referenced the 2019 death of Aurora teen Elijah McClain when she introduced the legislation last year.

“When he was murdered, he kept saying things like ‘I'm different.’ And the community of parents of kids on the autism spectrum, all of our antennas started going up. We’re like, ‘This sounds like any of our kids,” she told a legislative committee.

While the members of some “hidden” disability communities carry cards indicating their conditions, Michaelson Jenet said police sometimes ignore them. An official symbol on a state-issued ID gives this new disclosure tool much more authority, she said. 

“It is a signal to take on disability protocols,” she said.

A separate 2021 bill created a commission that has since recommended a new curriculum for first responders who interact with people with disabilities.

The new IDs will carry an “i”-like symbol near the holder’s picture. A notation will be added to the ID holder’s vehicle registration record, which is only accessible by law enforcement and DMV officials, but not included on the printed vehicle registration record. 

Eligible Coloradans will need to bring special forms, signed by a health care provider, to their DMV appointment or county motor vehicle office. More details are on the state’s DMV website.