By Olivia Kessler
Today, approximately 650 million people (almost 10 percent of the world’s population!) live with a disability, making them the world’s largest minority.
In July 2009, the United States signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD, which is based off the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 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 all people with disabilities. On December 4, 2012, the United States Senate voted to ratify the treaty, but fell five votes short of the super-majority required for ratification.
With the 24th anniversary of the ADA coming up on July 26th, advocates are hoping to see the CRPD reappear in the Senate. If ratified, this treaty will not only open the world for the millions of Americans with disabilities seeking to serve, study, or travel abroad, but it will also promote American business, and reinforce American leadership on disability rights.
As Reform Jews, we have long supported the rights of people with disabilities, and understand the importance of working to remove barriers in our congregations, in our youth groups, in our summer camps and in our society.
Our tradition teaches us, ” You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14) Last summer, participants at the URJ Kutz Camp preached this message through a video they made in support of the ratification of the CRPD in the Senate. Participants stressed the importance of this treaty, urging Senators to ratify the Convention so policies and legislation embracing the rights and dignity of people with disabilities can be shaped domestically and abroad. I encourage you to watch the full video by clicking here.
NFTY’s Action Theme in the coming year illustrates our dedication towards including all people in our programs, from including people of all gender and sexual identities to including people of all abilities. We want to expand our commitment to inclusion to focus on all people seeking equal rights, equal access, and equal opportunity.
Today, we can also raise our voices and let our Senators know that we support the disability rights around the world. Tell Congress to ratify the UN Convention the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!
Olivia Kessler, a high school senior, served this past year as NFTY’s Mid-Atlantic Region Social Action Vice President. In October, on The International Day of the Girl, the United Nations recognized her for her hard work and outstanding commitment to social justice. In the upcoming year, she will serve as the NFTY North American Social Action Vice President while attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.