If you are a person with a disability or a disability rights advocate, you may have recently been contacted about the United States Senate considering ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). CRDP is an international statement of human rights that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. Click here to read the convention.
Written by and with people with disabilities from all over the world, CRPD speaks to important fundamentals of an independent life for people with disabilities–employment, accessibility, the right to receive education, healthcare, justice and the right to live in the community. Sound familiar? It should. CRDP is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a law that was passed here in the United States in 1990, more than 20 years ago.
At Independence Care System, we owe our existence to the ADA and the Olmstead Decision. Because of the Legislation and later, the Supreme Court Decision, society started to adjust its idea of how and where a person with a disability should live. Many, many people with and without disabilities fought many years to get that legislation passed and now many advocates continue to fight for its enforcement and implementation. Work to meet the goal of full integration of Americans with disabilities remains, as demonstrated by a stubborn unemployment rate of over 70% for people with disabilities, but significant progress has been made. The question is, why should you have to be American to have equality, access, employment and live in the community?
Independence Care System supports the ratification of this convention, and similarly, many organizations are asking that you contact your Senators to ask that they also show their support. In an email to disability activists, United Spinal Association CEO and President, Paul Tobin says, “we need to raise our collective voice to ensure the passage of CRPD and protect disability rights around the world.” United Spinal has set up a letter writing campaign to contact your senator here or you can click here for information from the American Association for People with Disabilities. The United States is one of the few countries that have yet to ratify the convention. Countries like Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba have approved it. Currently, several Senators, including former presidential candidate and parent of a child with a disability Rick Santorum, are calling to reject ratification, saying that the convention sets bad precedents and will impact American’s right to home school their children. (See a cheeky column on Santorum’s views by Dana Milbank published on Oregon Live website here.)
The United States is a leader in the world of civil rights for people with disabilities. While we have most certainly missed our chance to be a leader in ratifying CRPD, we still have a chance to demonstrate our commitment to people with disabilities by doing the right thing now.