03 December 2010

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today is the International Day of Persons With Disabilities.

It is a day where people with disabilities and their advocates can speak about the issues that affect people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and abilities.

There are over 650 million people with disabilities all over the world (UN Enable).  They are the world's largest minority.

We are each guaranteed rights as human beings. Human rights are universal – they belong to everyone. Everyone has the right not to be discriminated against because of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, and other factors.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities was created by the United Nations in 2006, and it is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st Century (UN Enable).  It was first opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

The CRPD is a treaty (agreement) made in writing between countries.   Once a country agrees with a treaty, it signs it. When it becomes international law, it is ratified.  It will then be put into the laws of that country.

The CRPD says that people have the right to:
• equality before the law without discrimination
• life, liberty and security of the person
• equal recognition before the law and legal capacity
• freedom from torture
• freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
• respect physical and mental integrity
• freedom of movement and nationality
• live in the community
• freedom of expression and opinion
• respect for privacy
• respect for home and the family
• education
• health
• work
• an adequate standard of living
• participate in political and public life
• participate in cultural life

What does a country need to do once it signs the CRPD?
1. Make rules and laws to ensure equality
2. Change unfair laws
3. Oppose discrimination against people with disabilities
4. Make sure that there is accessible technology, equipment, and information

To date, there have been 147 signatories and 97 ratifications to the CRPD.

There is also Optional Protocol to the CRPD.  According to UN Enable, it is an international treaty that "establishes two procedures aimed at strengthening the implementation and monitoring of the Convention...the first is an individual communications procedure allowing individuals to bring petitions to the Committee claiming breaches of their rights; the second is an inquiry procedure giving the Committee authority to undertake inquiries of grave or systematic violations of the Convention." There have been 90 signatories and 60 ratifications to it.

In the US, the national law that protects people with disabilities is the Americans With Disabilities Act.  In July 2010, we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the ADA and honored all those who made it possible.   The ADA protects people with disabilities against discrimination in the workplace, transportation, school, health care, and public places.  As of today's date, the US has signed the CRPD but has not ratified it.  

Americans With Disabilities Act.  <http://www.ada.gov>
UN Enable.  <http://www.un.org/disabilities>

Other resources:
Mobility International USA. <http://www.miusa.org>
Victor Pineda Foundation. <http://www.pinedafoundation.org>

1 comment:

  1. Hello. I just came upon this from Ty Giordan's FB (Ty is dear to my heart from getting to know him when he performed Edward Albe play in Philadelphia in 2008). Anyway, learning of Transients and Enable document launched by the UN in '06 leaves me feeling more aware than ever about the gap/lack of knowledge on my part as to what is progressing worldwide, and what is not. On the one hand this is thrilling, an actual "disabilities Bill-of-Rights" if you will, which is international!! That is wonderful and, needless to say, centuries overdue. However, having said that, although the document lists the ...right to information...participation in community, political and cultural life..." etc., it does not specify the MOST critical right for Deaf and hard of hearing citizens world-wide, that is, the RIGHT TO COMMUNICATION (unless I missed it(?) If you open the International, 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' and go down to Article 19 where you will see "Everyone has the right to....hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart informtion and ideas through any media and regartdless of frontiers." This means the right to COMMUNICATON, as it is communication which is the key to all of the rest. Basically, at the recent celebration (national, local) of th 20th Anniversary of the ADA, what I say is this. "...go ahead and pat yourselves on the back if you must; I accept there have been some improvements in the quality of life of many Americans living with a variety of physical disabilities.... Even, i would allow, some improvements for persons who are deaf/Deaf and hard of hearing, by way of not insignificant technological advances which have spawned communication among and deaf and hearing and deaf and deaf, and Deaf and Hearing and Deaf and Deaf (there are some who will understand my varying use of upper and lower case 'D' and 'd'). However, again, the overall quality of life as regards the promise of grand movement toward full accessibility, opportunity, inclusion, and participation for Deaf Americans in the art, culture, social and political life of our nation I say 'shame on us' for even suggesting this is or has been the case since the signing of the ADA in 1990. So NO! There may be much to celebrate for others at this 20th year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but not if you're Deaf, in America!"