I have been deaf since birth. And, though I didn’t know it until I was in graduate school, I also always have had attention deficit disorder. So I have confronted various forms of disablism/ablism all my life. (The variant of disablism visited upon deaf people is often called “audism”, by the way.) And I’m passionate about seeing disablism/ablism be defeated in every country on Earth. Which we can’t do, at least not effectively, without the right tools. This is why I become frustrated when I meet fellow advocates fighting for disability rights who don’t know much about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
I absolutely love the annual May 1 Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) event. But I also get frustrated when once again another year goes by with very few (if any) contributing BADD bloggers even mentioning the CRPD in relation to disablism.
The CRPD is an international treaty written to protect the human rights of people with disabilities. Many elements of the CRPD was inspired in part by US disability civil rights legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In just six years,
130 133 countries have ratified it. And in these countries, advocates have slowly begun to use the CRPD to support arguments for reforming laws to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are better protected. And governments have been slowly starting to listen.
Also importantly, ratifying the CRPD gives a country the right to send representatives to high-level meetings among countries in which people discuss the best practices for CRPD implementation. These meetings are a critical vehicle for disseminating ideas and influencing other countries to consider ways to improve their practices in defending the rights of people with disabilities. But because the United States has only signed, and not yet ratified, the CRPD, we in the US have effectively excluded ourselves from that conversation. Although the US does still have some influence (after all, we passed the world’s first civil rights legislation protecting people with disabilities), our inability to join these high-level conversations as a fellow ratifying country does limit our opportunities for disseminating ideas to people in other countries in a position to do something about them.
The US disability community, Americans veterans community, various faith communities, parents and families of people with disabilities, and other allies have been advocating for the US to ratify the CRPD. We failed our first attempt in 2012. But keep watching for the next attempt! In the meantime, if you are a US citizen, consider these ideas for how you can support the campaign for US ratification of the CRPD!
1. Educate yourself about the CRPD!
- CRPD = “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”: an international treaty defending the human rights of people with disabilities. It is ratified by 133 countries—but not the US. We’re working to fix that!
- Learn the basics. Or, keep learning more. Find a collection of CRPD resource links here.
- Track news at USICD’s CRPD updates page. Follow @USICD in Twitter and in Facebook.
- Also join RatifyCRPD in Facebook–“like” it and hit the “share” button. Visit frequently to use the Facebook page as a resource for learning what other CRPD advocates are doing across the US.
- Students and faculty members at US colleges and Universities can join the Students4CRPD page.
2. Talk to Senators!
- Visit http://www.senate.gov or download this Word file: Senate Contact List. Find the website for each of your two senators. Email them, call them, tweet them, visit their offices, or leave messages at their Facebook page! In twitter, use the hashtag #CRPD.
- Your message for senators: “Please ratify the CRPD in 2013! This is an important issue for the disability & veterans community!” If desired, say what your connection to the disability or veterans community is.
3. Lend your Face!
- Show senators the faces of CRPD supporters! Take a picture of you holding your own homemade sign supporting the CRPD. Look at more pictures for ideas.
- Send the picture to Izzy at WCDT_Disabilities@comcast.net She can share it with the RatifyCRPD Facebook group and via Pinterest.
- Use Twitter? Tweet pictures to senators with the #CRPD hashtag.
4. Recruit Friends and Family!
- Educate friends and family about the CRPD. Ask them to call, email, or tweet senators–and contribute pictures!
- Retweet @USICD , @WeCanDoThis13, @AShettle and many other active CRPD tweeters oten. “Share” the USICD Facebook page .
5. What Can YOUR Organization Do?
- Have your organization sign on to USICD’s letter of support from organizations for the CRPD. (Check the list to learn what other US organizations have signed on.)
- Encourage your organization’s constituents to contact senators supporting the CRPD.
- Make a group picture of people who support the CRPD and send it to WCDT_Disabilities@comcast.net to be shared on Facebook and Pinterest! See examples of pictures here.
- Consider sending your own letter to senators. Explain why your organization wants the US to ratify. (Read letters of support from other organizations). Send a PDF copy to Susie Richard (firstname.lastname@example.org) so she can post it to USICD’s website.
- Communicate with USICD about these and other ways to help the effort.
This blog post is offered as a contribution to the 2013 Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) event. This is an annual blogging activity, held each year on May 1, in which more than a hundred bloggers contribute blog posts on disablism. Follow the link to discover many other contributions from this year.