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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Advocates Rally for Disability Treaty CRPD Ratification in D.C

as shared by U.S. International Council on Disabilities ...

Advocates rally for ratification of the disability treaty in the annual NCIL march onto Capitol Hill. 
(Photo courtesy of Virginia Knowlton Marcus - a USICD member!)
On July 29th, advocates from around the country, including hundreds visiting Washington, DC for the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) conference and annual march onto Capitol Hill, gathered to rally for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  USICD extends an extra special thanks to NCIL for their loud and visible support for ratification!
American Paralympic athletes join other CRPD advocates, including Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island (center), outside the U.S. Capitol.
(Photo courtesy of Candace Cable)
Throughout the day, disability advocates were addressed by members of Congress and nationally recognized disability community leaders, all calling for the U.S. Senate to finish the job of ratifying CRPD.  In collaboration with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, USICD welcomed American Paralympians to the CRPD rally. Cheri Blauwet, Candace Cable, Muffy Davis and Keith Gabel brought home the gold!

Advocates gather in Hart Senate Office building in support of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
(Photo courtesy of Access Living)

Following the NCIL rally near the Reflecting Pool of the United States Capitol, advocates proceeded to the Hart Senate Office Building, where we circled together to honor those individuals around the world who have faced discrimination, violence, and violation of their human rights because of their disabilities. We then called in unison for ratification of the CRPD before dispersing to visit Senators' offices and advocate for this important treaty.     
Michael Gamel-McCormick, from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's staff, speaks to advocates on CRPD in Hart Senate Office Building.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Olin)

CRPD Successfully Voted Out of Foreign Relations Committee
On July 22nd, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took a crucial step toward ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international treaty designed to promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities worldwide. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with representatives from the broad and diverse coalition of business, veterans, disability and civil rights organizations supporting the treaty reacted to the passage from committee with enthusiasm:

Marca Bristo, President, U.S. International Council on Disabilities: "We are here today to send a clear message: it is time to ratify the Disability Treaty. Failure by our Senators to ratify this treaty would be a betrayal of the American disability community, who, as recent polling tells us, vote in higher numbers than almost any other group. It is a betrayal that will not be forgotten by these millions of voters, and by our allies in the veterans, business, faith, and civil rights communities who are united in support of the treaty."

Randy Johnson, Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "There are plenty of reasons to support the Disability Treaty -the most obvious and important one being that it's the right thing to do for people across the globe who are living and working with disabilities. But there are economic and competitiveness benefits for the United States as well. It would create a level playing field for American businesses, leverage the leadership and innovation of American business in setting accessibility standards, and make us more able to do business abroad.  Further, the treaty does not impose new requirements on U.S. employers and entities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  We urge our leaders to seize the opportunity to boost the U.S. economy and help people with disabilities worldwide by ratifying this treaty."

Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and John McCain of Arizona speak at a press conference promoting ratification of the CRPD.  The Senators were joined by representatives of numerous veteran organizations including the American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and special attendee, Senator Bob Dole, himself a veteran and advocate for ratification.
(Photo courtesy of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights)

Tom Tarantino, Chief Policy Officer, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: "This treaty embodies the values supported by the United States Military - the importance of promoting human rights and dignity around the world, and the power of the United States to be a leader in the fight for these ideals. The United States has an obligation not to be a bystander in the fight for rights and dignity for people with disabilities, but to embrace our role as a global leader and extend the rights we've fought for here to the rest of world."

Frances West, Chief Accessibility Officer at IBM and Worldwide Director of the IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center: "IBM is confident that US ratification of the CRPD will generate new opportunities for businesses across many different industries. It will also create a global marketplace "pull" for accessible information and communications technologies, and we believe, reinforce the United States' legacy leadership position as a champion for full societal inclusion of people with disabilities. We believe failure to act, will produce quite the opposite effect over the long term: stifling the ambition and dreams of people with disabilities, choking marketplace opportunities, and jeopardizing the United States' ability to influence the global accessibility community."  

Wade Henderson, President/CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: "The United States benefits from a rich history of disability rights legislation that has inspired nations around the world to honor the dignity of people with disabilities, but it is shameful that we still lag behind the global community in ratifying the CRPD. U.S. ratification of the treaty will allow us to once again be a global leader in disability rights, and to amplify the message both here and abroad that disability rights are, indeed, human rights."

Visit  U.S. International Council on Disabilities for more information on there mission!

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