The Global ADA
In 2009, the United States signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention is based on the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act, intended to empower persons with disabilities to be independent and productive citizens. It represents an international effort to bring the world closer to achieving the goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. What’s more, the Convention could make traveling and working abroad possible for more Americans, especially those who do so frequently such as veterans with disabilities or military family members with disabilities.
The Convention now stands at a crossroads. In May, a bipartisan group of seven senators, including Senators Dick Durbin and John McCain came forward as strong supporters of the treaty, just after it was formally introduced in the Senate. It now falls to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to deliberate the Convention and bring it before the full Senate. A two-thirds majority vote in the Senate is required to ratify international treaties.
It’s worth noting that ratifying the Convention would cost nothing and would require no changes to existing law—after all, the language in the document is based in no small part on the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 1990.
The Reform Movement has long supported the rights of people with disabilities, drawing upon what we are taught in Leviticus 19:14, that “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.” We are commanded to be proactive in bringing down barriers placed by society, whether intended or not, before people with disabilities.
Ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will ensure that people with disabilities around the world are able to lead fulfilling, participatory lives— the same right we all deserve.
Check back with RACblog for updates on this critical issue.
Image courtesy Third Sector Magazine