Just Say the Word, Disability!

No, “disability” is not a bad word.

No, having a disability is not shameful.

No, disability does not mean being “less than”.

No, disability does NOT mean a complete inability to do things. It only means, needing to do things differently from everyone else.

No, it does not mean that your life loses value. Disabled lives are LIVES WORTH LIVING.

Claiming the disability label for yourself or for your children and other loved ones is NOT a form of “giving up”. It doesn’t mean that you stop working toward greater autonomy, improved abilities, integration into society, or a more fulfilled life. It just means, acknowledging that you may need to do things differently. Sometimes accepting a disability can be an important step toward achieving your life goals. You can’t imagine away limitations, but you can imagine how to work around them.

Claiming the disability label can be an act of pride. Many disabled warriors have fought for everything from the right to ride public transportation, to attend school, to have the same access to information and communication as everyone else, and more. Even if you’re not disabled, then you have still benefited from our advocacy. Every curb cut you’ve ever used for your baby stroller, every line of captions that enables you to understand television in a noisy bar, and many more things are there because we fought for them.

If you’re worried about “appropriating” the term from people who need it? If you are worried that your difficulties are too “minor” to “count”? If you think the best way to show respect for disabled people is to disclaim the label? Please relax. Most of us want MORE people, not fewer, to feel entitled to identify with the word “disability”. Even people who experience different degrees of difficulty may still share a common need for accessible environments and respect for our value as human beings. You’re not taking anything away from us by claiming the identity. On the contrary: you are identifying common ground that lets us work together toward common goals.

If you still believe disability isn’t an accurate descriptor for you? Or if you need to think about it more first? You have a right to define your own identity. You do you.

But please, have the courtesy to disclaim the label in a way that doesn’t imply that being a person with talents, autonomy, and value as a human being is somehow a contradiction to being also a person with disabilities.

And, please, learn what the term means before explaining why it doesn’t fit. If you say you’re not disabled because there are so many things you can do, then you haven’t understood what it means. If you say you’re not disabled because you “only need to do things differently,” then you have just given the definition for what “disability” means. Wouldn’t it feel silly to learn that your explanation for disclaiming the label instead explains why you have a right to claim it after all?

Open Letter to People Writing Articles About Successful People with Disabilities

Open letter to people writing articles about successful people with disabilities:

Yes, that’s right, [insert disability here] completely failed to stop this person from [insert ordinary accomplishment here].

Do you know why their disability did not stop them from doing well with the thing?

Here, let me help you. The reason why their disability didn’t stop them? Is because there’s no reason why it would! Because having this disability doesn’t have anything to do with the success that you have described!

The negative assumptions that other people make about disabled people? The prejudice and discrimination that people with disabilities have to deal with? The accessibility barriers in our environment? These things can slow us down. Sometimes these things can even stop us altogether. But nine times out of ten, articles about successful people with disabilities aren’t talking about these things when they say, “[disability] did not stop this person from [accomplishment]”!

You may think you are doing a good thing in sharing stories that help bust stereotypes about disability. You are helping show that people with disabilities can be successful!

Yes, this is good. But the way you frame this matters. When you say that the person accomplished X despite having disability Y, you help reinforce the concept that disability Y should normally be a barrier to achieving accomplishment X. These kinds of statements can actually reinforce negative assumptions about disability. This can imply that the person’s success is a rare exception that other disabled people might not achieve. And often that implication is incorrect.

If you really want to help break stereotypes, then please don’t do it like this. Instead, please help your readers understand that,

  • Yes, this person with a disability is successful!
  • Because lots of people with similar disabilities are also accomplishing great things!

Help employers and other gatekeepers understand that, very often, the only thing standing in the way of the next successful disabled person is the lack of opportunity. And they’re in a position to offer these opportunities.

Thanks.

Signed, Annoyed Reader with Multiple Disabilities Who Sometimes Gets Tired of Seeing the Same Tropes in News Stories About People with Disabilities

[Note: I originally posted this “open letter” at my Tumblr.]

[Disclaimers: Yes, I recognize that sometimes disabilities are the barrier. I do not intend to erase the experiences of people for whom disability is the primary challenge to meeting conventional definitions of “successful”. However, in a high ratio of media coverage, disability in and of itself is not as much of a barrier as media purveyors seem to assume. Also: Yes, I absolutely agree that people do not have to be employed to have value as people, or to be defined as “successful”. Hence, “and other gatekeepers”.]

Let August Voices to Senators be Loud! Tell them to Support the Disability Treaty!

Text inside circle says "We Support CRPD", text around circle says www.disabilitytreaty.org also on rim of circle are icons for sign interpreter, wheelchair, audio loop, and blind person with caneYes, the campaign for U.S. ratification of the “Disability Treatycontinues!   We still need your support to move forward the struggle for the human rights of 1 billion people with disabilities around the world!  This isn’t a quick sprint, this is an ongoing marathon.  And like any other marathon, getting this treaty passed requires persistence from all of us!  It isn’t over until it’s over!

  • This handout is a good start for people new to the CRPD:  http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager
  • Find more resources on what the “Disability Treaty” is and why it matters at http://bit.ly/Resources4CRPD.
  • Recruit friends and family to help you call Senators! The Action Center at http://disabilitytreaty.org provides phone numbers for your Senators and a suggested script.  The Action Center also has a template email.   Tell Senators that you want the U.S. to ratify the “Disability Treaty” (called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD).  Tell them as many times as it takes for them to hear us.
  • Did you know that August is a great time to meet with your Senators in their home state offices about the “Disability Treaty” (CRPD)? A personal meeting with a Senator (or their staff) can be a powerful way to get the message across that you want them to ratify the CRPD.   Your Senators both have at least one office in your home state.  This handout has guidance on how to meet with your Senator: http://bit.ly/MeetSenators. To find a town hall meeting to attend, consult your Senators’ website, or your local newspaper.

If you’ve done all the above and now want to call more Senators in addition to your own, here are some who need to hear from more CRPD advocates:

Senator Reid, Nevada
202-224-3542
http://www.reid.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
Senator Reid is the person who has the power to schedule a floor vote on the CRPD–or not.  He supports the treaty.  But he still needs to hear from us that we want him to please schedule a Senate floor vote on the CRPD in 2014!

Senator Flake, Arizona
202-224-4521
colleen_donnelly@flake.senate.gov

Senator Boozman, Arkansas
(202) 224-4843
http://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

Senator Isakson, Georgia
202-224-3643
chris_sullivan@isakson.senate.gov

Senator Chambliss, Georgia
202-224-3521
Brandon_bell@chambliss.senate.gov

Senator Coats, Indiana
202-224-5623
terry_snell@coats.senate.gov

Senator Blunt, Missouri
202-224-5721
lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov

Senator Cochran, Mississippi
202-224-5054
tim_wolverton@cochran.senate.gov

Senator  Wicker, Mississippi
202-224-6253
bevin_wilkinson@wicker.senate.gov

Senator Fischer, Nebraska
202-224-6551
peter_schirtzinger@fischer.senate.gov

Senator Johanns, Nebraska
202-224-4224
leslie_campbell@johanns.senate.gov

Senator Burr, North Carolina
202-224-3154
Cynthia_ramos@burr.senate.gov

Senator Portman, Ohio
202-224-3353
tyler_brace@portman.senate.gov

Senator Toomey, Pennsylvania
202-224-4254
dan_adelstein@toomey.senate.gov

Senator Graham,  South Carolina
202-224-5972
matt_rimkunas@lgraham.senate.gov

Senator Scott, South Carolina
202-224-6121
spencer_pederson@scott.senate.gov

Senator Hoeven, North Dakota
202-224-2551
josh_carter@hoeven.senate.gov

Senator Hatch, Utah
202-224-5251
tom_jipping@hatch.senate.gov

 

After the Disability Treaty Rally–Yes, We Still Need YOUR Calls to Senators!

This was disseminated yesterday by Access Living in Chicago, which is one of hundreds of organizations involved with the national campaign for the U.S. ratification of the “Disability Treaty” (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD).  The rally referenced in this email occurred on July 29th, 2014.  Certain Senators still really need to hear from CRPD supporters!  You will find phone numbers below.  A suggested “script” for what to say is available via the Action Center at http://disabilitytreaty.org.  If you are comfortable using the phone, please do: Many Senators do count phone calls more heavily than most other forms of communication.  Yes, voice mail messages left outside of office hours are still counted!  But if making a phone call isn’t your thing, then email addresses for a staff person in each Senator’s office is also included below.  A template email for you to modify is also available at http://disabilitytreaty.org.

If the Senate adjourns for August recess without voting on the CRPD, then those of us who support the human rights of 1 billion people with disabilities around the world will need to sustain our pressure on Senators during August.  Please read below for more information on latest events and for a list of Senators who need to hear from you!

Date: July 30, 2014 12:00:39 PM EDT
Subject: Update on the CRPD Fight from Washington, DC!

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Writing you from Washington, DC!  Yesterday was an amazing day with disability advocates from across the nation fighting for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

First thing yesterday morning, hundreds of advocates marched from downtown DC to the Reflecting Pool at the US Capitol. Energy and positivity was very high as we knew we were marching with our best!  We rallied with a number of members of Congress who came to express support for independent living and the CRPD.  Among them were our own Senator Dick Durbin and Representatives Brad Schneider and Jan Schakowsky.  They lit the crowd on fire!

Then, about 150 of us marched to the Senate Hart Office Building where there is a large atrium.  We rallied in the atrium with a range of national disability advocates.  Then, we split up to focus on visiting the offices of Senators whose votes we need to pass the CRPD.  I personally visited eight of the twelve key Senate offices with support from Access Living and Progress Center team members. We found some people are still wavering, while some are resisting.

I know that advocates are working all fronts right now to get that support so Senator Tom Harkin can call for a floor vote on the CRPD.  No news yet this morning, but if we have new developments we will be sure to let you know! In the meantime, desk warriors, your support yesterday has meant so much and I need to ask you to call those offices once again today.  Below my signature is the contact info you need.  Just say, “Support the CRPD!”  Every contact counts. Let’s go Illinois!

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living

Key Senators:

Senator Flake, Arizona
202-224-4521
colleen_donnelly@flake.senate.gov

Senator Isakson, Georgia
202-224-3643
chris_sullivan@isakson.senate.gov

Senator Chambliss, Georgia
202-224-3521
Brandon_bell@chambliss.senate.gov

Senator Coats, Indiana
202-224-5623
terry_snell@coats.senate.gov

Senator Blunt, Missouri
202-224-5721
lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov

Senator Cochran, Mississippi
202-224-5054
tim_wolverton@cochran.senate.gov

Senator  Wicker, Mississippi
202-224-6253
bevin_wilkinson@wicker.senate.gov

Senator Fischer, Nebraska
202-224-6551
peter_schirtzinger@fischer.senate.gov

Senator Johanns, Nebraska
202-224-4224
leslie_campbell@johanns.senate.gov

Senator Burr, North Carolina
202-224-3154
Cynthia_ramos@burr.senate.gov

Senator Portman, Ohio
202-224-3353
tyler_brace@portman.senate.gov

Senator Toomey, Pennsylvania
202-224-4254
dan_adelstein@toomey.senate.gov

Senator Graham,  South Carolina
202-224-5972
matt_rimkunas@lgraham.senate.gov

Senator Scott, South Carolina
202-224-6121
spencer_pederson@scott.senate.gov

Senator Hoeven, North Dakota
202-224-2551
josh_carter@hoeven.senate.gov

Senator Hatch, Utah
202-224-5251
tom_jipping@hatch.senate.gov

(If you missed the Disability Treaty Rally that was in Washington DC on Tuesday, July 29th, you can watch videos of some of it–some labeled CRPD, some labeled NCIL–at http://bambuser.com/channel/USICD. Unfortunately no captions, but the person who did the filming attempted to keep the sign interpreter in the shot when feasible.)

ALERT: Disability Treaty is Moving Again! We Need More of YOUR Phone Calls to Senators

Edited (July 24, 2014) to add this paragraph: The Disability Treaty has passed a major hurdle that we have been working toward during more than 18 months of sustained campaigning!  The treaty (called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD) has been passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This means we are a major step closer to ratification–but we’re not there yet.  We still need your help calling Senators to ask them to ratify.  The Action Center at http://disabilitytreaty.org can help you with phone numbers and a script for talking with your Senators’ staff.  With the Disability Treaty passed out of committee, Senator Reid could schedule a Senate floor vote at any time.  Things may move VERY QUICKLY from here on out.  Although I try to post alerts here when I am able, sometimes there is simply too much to do.  The best way to ensure you don’t miss any important opportunities to take action is to subscribe to the CRPD Action Alert mailing list at http://disabilitytreaty.org/app/register?1&m=9605.

The text of the original blog post (posted on July 18) follows below:

Thank you to everyone who called their Senators this month and expressed support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)! Based on your incredible show of support, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez has scheduled a mark-up hearing on July 22nd! (Senators will propose and vote on Amendments for the CRPD, then vote it out of Committee).

We need your help! It is critical! We cannot stop now: The world is watching!

Your Senators need to hear again from you and know that you support the CRPD! Show the community is behind this treaty and that we want the process to keep moving forward to a Floor vote!

Visit our citizen action portal,www.disabilitytreaty.orgto find yourSenators information and CALL them! They need to see that we want this NOW or we will not succeed.

For examples on contacting your Senator through Twitter follow @Ashettle and @USICD and @AdvocatEquality.

You can make the CRPD Sticker your Facebook profile picture to encourage support by your friends Text inside circle says "We Support CRPD", text around circle says www.disabilitytreaty.org also on rim of circle are icons for sign interpreter, wheelchair, audio loop, and blind person with caneand family

​ Or, find more stickers at http://bit.ly/CRPDprofile!

If you would like to the join the next National Youth and Campus leaders call, please contact Andrea Shettle at AShettle@USICD.org.

YOUR International Travel Stories Could Help Global Disability Rights

CRPD_StickerAre you a person with a disability? Have you traveled or lived in a country other than the U.S.? Have you faced accessibility barriers or disability-based discrimination while in another country? Or, have you ever been unable to participate in an international exchange program because of accessibility barriers abroad?

YOUR story could help the U.S. ratify the “Disability Treaty”, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, http://disabilitytreaty.org). This is an important international agreement to honor the civil rights of people with disabilities: 147 countries have ratified it, but the U.S. has not.

  • Please take a few minutes to think of one specific incident in which you experienced problems in another country because of your disability.
  • OR, think about a time you couldn’t participate in an international exchange program or other international trip because of disability discrimination abroad.
  • Please write a few sentences about this one specific incident. Then, submit your story via the web at http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/crpdstories.cfm
  • You may have experienced problems on many occasions in another country. But we are asking you to choose ONE incident to describe.
  • Please submit multiple stories if you are able! We ask that each story describe a separate, single incident. 

Your story could be used to educate U.S. Senators about why 1 billion people with disabilities around the world need them to ratify the Disability Treaty (CRPD).  Learn more about the campaign for U.S. ratification of the CRPD at http://disabilitytreaty.org.

CRPD graphic 0614

Disability Representation

Disability Representation.

via Disability Representation.

Please visit the link to learn how you can help build a collection of media that has disability representation in it, and also help build a collection of blogs about disability representation.

Join the Thunder for the “Disability Treaty” (#CRPD)!

Help bring attention to the “Disability Treaty” (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD)!  We need the U.S. to ratify this important international human rights treaty protecting the civil rights of 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide.  Sign up your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account NOW to join the next “Thunder Clap It” for the CRPD at http://thndr.it/1ky8p97 !

What’s A “Thunder Clap It”?

A “Thunder Clap It” is when 100 or more people sign on their Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account to all send out the same message at the same time to all their followers.  To participate, you need to sign up in advance.  The next CRPD “Thunder Clap It” will be at 2pm EST on June 10, 2014 (1pm Central Time, 11am Pacific Time).  Sign up BEFORE this time or you will miss the Thunder Clap.

How Do I Sign Up?

  • Go to this link: http://thndr.it/1ky8p97
  • A message will ask you to share a message to support the #CRPD.
  • You will find three buttons—one each for Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.  You need to have an account in at least one of these three in order to participate.
  • Click on whichever button is appropriate.  You will have an opportunity to personalize your message to your followers.
  • Hit the “Add My Support” button.
  • If you have successfully signed up, then you should appear at the top of the list of “Recent Supporters” in the right hand side bar.  Refresh the page if needed.

What Else?

Learn more about the CRPD and other ways to help at http://disabilitytreaty.org.  Sign up for the CRPD “action alert” mailing list at the link!  Ask your friends to do the same!

U.S. Youth/Student Teleconference Call on International Disability Rights

Dear Disability Rights Supporters:

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up this summer. What’s also heating up is the U.S. campaign for the “Disability Treaty”—an important international treaty upholding the civil rights of 1 billion people with disabilities around the world. We need youth, students, and other people like YOU to help! You might have missed the April 23rd teleconference call, but please don’t miss the next call on June 3rd led by Coalition leaders DREDF and USICD.

So far, 146 other countries have ratified the “Disability Treaty”, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). But the U.S. has not. And because many countries consider U.S. behavior as precedent for their own, that’s slowing down advances for disability rights around the world. People opposed to international treaties defeated us on our first try to ratify the CRPD in 2012. Please don’t let them win again. YOUR energy and passion could make the difference. We need you NOW to pass the CRPD in 2014!

Learn more about the “Disability Treaty” by visiting http://disabilitytreaty.org or by downloading a simple handout at http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager.

Want to join our next national teleconference call for youth and student CRPD supporters? This will be on June 3rd at 4pm EST (3pm Central Time, 1pm Pacific Time). CART will be available. Contact Andrea Shettle (ashettle@usicd.org) to learn how to join the call or to request a document that reviews some of the history of the CRPD and ideas for ways to help.

Please circulate this notice to relevant contacts.

National Youth/Student Disability Rights Teleconference Call

CRPD_StickerDear Disability Human Rights Advocates:

Are you ready to be involved with the national movement for international disability rights?  If so, you are invited to join the next national teleconference call for student and youth advocates at U.S. colleges/universities.  This call will be on Wednesday, April 23rd, at 4 pm EST (3 pm Central Time, 1 pm Pacific Time).  CART (live text transcription on line) will be available.

An important international “Disability Treaty” is being used around the world to promote the human rights of people with disabilities.  So far, 143 countries have ratified the “Disability Treaty”, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  But the U.S. has not yet joined them.  This has the potential to slow down advances in disability rights in other countries around the world.  We need student and youth volunteers and other campus leaders at U.S. colleges/universities to help change that.  People like YOU!

The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) have been leading a coalition of more than 800 disability, veterans’ human rights, international development, humanitarian, business, and religious organizations in support of U.S. ratification of the Disability Treaty (CRPD).  USICD and DREDF also have been helping guide student and youth leaders in mobilizing their campus communities to take action in support of the CRPD.

If you’re new to the Disability Treaty, learn the basics in this one-page flyer at http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager and visit http://disabilitytreaty.orgThen join the call on April 23rd to learn the latest news about the national movement for U.S. ratification of the CRPD.  Find out what other advocates have been doing at U.S. colleges and universities to support the movement.  Bring your energy, idealism, and passion to the call!  Let us help you consider how you can help!

Please contact Andrea Shettle at ashettle@usicd.org to learn how to dial into the April 23rd call or how to connect to the on-line CART service (live text transcription of the call).  Or, if you cannot join this call, please still contact me to receive materials that can help you think about ways to support the national movement.  Join forces with advocates across the country!  Together, we have POWER!

Know others who might be interested in joining this call?  Please circulate this notice as appropriate.

Attention Disability Rights Treaty Supporters: Two National Teleconference Calls Tomorrow, January 28th!

ear disability rights advocates:

This announcement is a friendly reminder that tomorrow, Tuesday, January 28th, is an important day for people across the country who want the U.S. to ratify the “Disability Treaty”—Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)!  Tomorrow, two separate national teleconference phone calls for CRPD supporters are being offered.  I encourage you to attend both if you are able.  These calls will complement and build upon each other and both may be helpful to you as you consider ways to mobilize YOUR school / campus community in support of CRPD ratification.

  1. The first call is for ALL people in the U.S. who want the U.S. Senate to ratify the Disability Treaty (CRPD)!  This call will be a rallying call to discuss a wider national strategy for calling Senators back to the negotiation table so we can move forward toward ratification.  There will be hundreds from around the country on the call.  Speakers will include national leaders in the CRPD ratification movement. This call is at 1 pm EST (Noon Central Time, 10am Pacific Time).  Click here to RSVP for the general CRPD call.  People who RSVP for this call will receive instructions for dialing into the call and/or connecting to the online CART service (live transcription of the call).
  2. The second call is targeted for YOU, university students and other university personnel who want to help mobilize their campus community in support of the Disability Treaty (CRPD).  This will have a smaller group of participants with more opportunity to exchange concrete ideas for taking action at your campus. Much of the information from the earlier call may not be repeated. The student/campus leader call is at 4 pm EST (3 pm Central Time, 1pm Pacific Time).  This call will be facilitated by Rhonda Neuhaus from the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF).  She will be joined by Andrea Shettle at the U.S. International Council on Disabilities.  Please contact Andrea Shettle at ashettle@usicd.org to join this call.  If this email was forwarded to you by someone else, then please also contact ashettle@usicd.org to be put on our mailing list to be notified of future calls for student and other campus leaders who support the Disability Treaty.

Other quick announcements:

  • Please sign and disseminate the youth and student CRPD petition at http://bit.ly/Youth4CRPD!  Show U.S. Senators that youth under age 30, and students of all ages, want the U.S. to ratify the Disability Treaty!
  • Learn more about the disability treaty, why more than 800 U.S. disability, veterans, human rights, and other organizations want the U.S. to ratify it, and how it will help 1 billion people with disabilities around the world at http://disabilitytreaty.org.
  • Are you a student or recent graduate with disabilities who aspires to a career in the international development or international affairs field?  A U.S. citizen?  Please consider applying to join the Youth International Development and Affairs (YIDA) internship program.  The YIDA program will bring a small group of talented interns to Washington DC during the summer of 2014 to complete internships at various international organizations in the DC area.  The application deadline is this Wednesday, January 29th!  Learn more about the program and how to apply at http://www.usicd.org/template/page.cfm?id=257

Reminder: Dec. 18 teleconference call for students/campus leaders

This post is a friendly reminder that students and other campus advocates are invited to participate in a national meeting via teleconference phone call this December 18. 
  • During this call, we will share updates on the Disability Treaty campaign.  Participants can also exchange ideas on how to keep the effort going during winter break!
  • This call will be facilitated by Rhonda Neuhaus, who represents the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF).  Joining her will be Andrea Shettle at the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD).
  • These calls are for students and others at U.S. universities and colleges who want to help mobilize their campus community to take action in support of the Disability Treaty!

When is the Next Call?

  • The next call will be on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, at 4 pm EST (3 pm Central Time, 1 pm Pacific Time). 
  • Another call will be held on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, at 4 pm EST (3 pm Central Time, 1 pm Pacific Time.)
  • Need the dial-in information for these calls?  Please contact Andrea Shettle at ashettle@usicd.orgCan’t join the December call? Ask me for a summary.
  • Deaf participants usually use video relay service to join these calls.  But please alert me if you will need other accommodations such as CART.

Who Are We?USICD and DREDF are two of the lead organizations in the national movement for US ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, aka “Disability Treaty”).  We are in a coalition of more than 800 disability, veterans, faith, business, and civil rights organizations who share the same goal of CRPD ratification in the U.S.  Please join this exciting and historic grassroots movement!

What Else?

  • Also, find information and materials on the Disability Treaty at http://disabilitytreaty.org.  The Action Center at this website makes it easier to call or email Senators.

In Addendum …P.S. In addition to leading the national effort for U.S. ratification of the CRPD, USICD also coordinates an internship program for students and recent graduates with disabilities who aspire to careers in international development or international affairs.  We are now accepting applications for the Youth in International Development and Affairs (YIDA) internship program until January 29, 2014.  Learn more about this program and how to apply at http://usicd.org/template/page.cfm?id=257

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Truth Action: Sign On letter for people on feeding tubes, vents and bipaps

The text below has been disseminated via email from Not Dead Yet:

Two very misleading “fact sheets” are being promoted and sold nationally by Respecting Choices, operated by Gundersen Health Systems, not only with people who are close to death, but also for advance planning purposes.  They express a strong bias against long term use of feeding tubes, BiPAPs and ventilators, discouraging health care consumers and medical professionals from using these life-sustaining devices except for short-term recovery and not as part of a viable and vibrant disability lifestyle.  These devices are portrayed as uncomfortable and ineffective, especially for those of us who are “older” and “weakened” by long-term, progressive conditions.

Not every technology works for everyone, and people should certainly make their own choices, but choice is only possible when people receive full, accurate, and unbiased information.

We [Not Dead Yet] have developed a national sign on letter to express disability-related concerns to Gundersen and initiate a process to resolve these concerns.  We are looking for some organizations, as well as individuals who use these devices, to sign on.  To view the letter and “fact sheets”, as well as our analysis and concerns, please go to http://tinyurl.com/mhs3z9j.

Please consider lending your name or the name of your organization to this important effort.  Together, we can spread the word that life-sustaining technologies do not reduce the quality of our lives, but enable us to survive and thrive.

To sign on to this letter, please email dcoleman@notdeadyet.org.  Please provide the name as it should appear, as well as city and state.  For organizations, please indicate whether the organization is national, state or local.  For individuals, please indicate if you use a feeding tube, BiPAP or ventilator.

Diane Coleman, JD, MBA
President/CEO
Not Dead Yet
497 State Street
Rochester, NY  14608
708-420-0539 C
www.notdeadyet.org

A Time Line of the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of Disability Treaty (CRPD)

This time line was edited and updated on August 21, 2014.

Confused about what has been happening with the campaign for U.S. ratification of the “Disability Treaty” (called, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD)?  This post starts with a brief background on what the CRPD (“Disability Treaty”) is.  Then it provides a rough timeline of events in the movement for U.S. ratification of the CRPD.

The CRPD is an international treaty—meaning, an agreement among nations that sign and ratify it.  Countries that ratify the CRPD agree to provide people with disabilities the same rights and opportunities that other people have.  The CRPD was partly inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It promotes equality, non-discrimination, and the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mainstream of society.  As of August 2014, 147 countries have ratified the CRPD–but the U.S. has not yet joined them.

When a country signs a treaty, this is basically a way of saying they think the treaty is good and they’re thinking about maybe ratifying it.  Ratification is a more serious step because it signifies that the country is going to look at its laws and make sure they are consistent with the CRPD.  Different countries vary in their process for ratifying international treaties.  In the United States, the U.S. president can sign a treaty but cannot ratify it.  Only the U.S. Senate can ratify an international treaty.  For this, they need a two-thirds “super majority” vote.  Since we currently have 100 Senators, this means we need 67 Senators to vote “yes” in order to ratify the CRPD.

For more basics about the treaty, download a brief handout at http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager.  More information on the CRPD, including a FAQ and a 48-minute captioned webinar video, at http://disabilitytreaty.org.  You can find many more materials to explore at http://bit.ly/Resources4CRPD.  Timeline below:

2001 – Mexico proposes the idea of an international treaty to promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

2002 to 2006 – Thousands of people around the world are involved with the process of writing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These include representatives of the United Nations, legal experts, and delegates from hundreds of disability-led organizations from more than 100 countries. Many of the CRPD authors are themselves people with disabilities.  And many of the authors have personally experienced the human rights violations that the CRPD is meant to help prevent.

March 2007 – Countries are now able to sign or ratify the CRPD. More than 80 countries sign it at the opening ceremony.  President Bush chooses not to sign on behalf of the U.S.

2008 – Senator Barack Obama becomes the only presidential candidate in either party to make a campaign pledge that he will sign the CRPD and help advocate for the Senate to ratify it.

July 2009 – President Barack Obama signs the CRPD.

July 2009 to April 2012 – Many U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Justice, carefully examine every article of the CRPD. During this time, they also carefully examine all existing US federal, state, and local laws across the country relating to people with disabilities. They compare these laws against the CRPD.  After three years, both Republicans and Democrats concur that the US is already in compliance with the CRPD and that the CRPD is not a threat to US sovereignty.

May, June 2012 – The Obama administration transmits the CRPD package to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  People opposed to international treaties begin advocating against the CRPD.  People who support disability rights ramp up efforts to advocate for the CRPD.

July 2012 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold a hearing on the CRPD.  CRPD supporters advocate with Senators for its ratification. Opponents use misinformation about the treaty to mislead parents into advocating against the CRPD.  They lead parents to mistakenly believe that the CRPD would be a threat to their right to home school their children or otherwise make choices on their children’s behalf.  Parents start to flood Senators with phone calls asking them to oppose the CRPD.

November 2012 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sends the CRPD out of Committee.  This means it can be considered by the full Senate.

December 4, 2012 – All international treaties require a two-thirds super-majority vote in the US Senate to be ratified.  The Senate votes on the CRPD: 61 vote in favor, 38 vote against, and 1 Senator (Mark Kirk, Republican from Illinois) could not vote at all due to being on sick leave during the entire year of 2012.  Several Senators had pledged to CRPD advocates that they would vote for the CRPD only to change their minds. Some Senators report that phone calls opposing the CRPD outnumbered phone calls in favor by as much as 50 to 1.

December 5 to 31, 2012 – Media coverage of the CRPD explodes.  The CRPD vote receives far more media attention for having failed than it had during the entire campaign up to this point. Senators who support the CRPD pledge to bring it back for a fresh vote sometime in the new year.

January to October 2013 – CRPD advocates continue to educate people about the CRPD and communicate with Senators on why they should support the CRPD.  Opponents continue to use misinformation and scare tactics to mobilize people in opposition to the treaty.

November 5, 2013 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds the first of two hearings on the CRPD.  So many CRPD supporters attend the hearing that three rooms are completely filled: one is the main hearing room, the other two are overflow rooms in the same building in which a televised broadcast of the hearing is shown.

November 21, 2013 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a second hearing on the CRPD.  Because so many people had attended the first hearing, this second hearing is held in a much larger room. People eager to observe the hearing once again fill the room, requiring the use of overflow space.

Late November/First Half of December 2013 – Republicans and Democrats in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appear to negotiate in good faith regarding how to proceed with the CRPD.  This includes negotiations on a package of “Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations” that should be attached to CRPD ratification to ease the concerns of opponents over U.S. sovereignty and other issues.  Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations (sometimes referred to as “RUDs”) are amendments that a country can add when they ratify an international treaty.  These “RUDs” allow countries to clarify how they intend to interpret or implement the treaty that they are ratifying.  The U.S. has attached “RUDs” to some of the previous international treaties it has ratified.  U.S. courts have consistently upheld these RUDs as having the full force of law.  These behind-the-scenes negotiations  among Senators on the RUDs are an important preliminary step that needs to be completed before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can hold a final mark-up hearing.  The mark-up hearing is the stage at which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can vote on whether to send the CRPD out of committee.

December 20, 2013 – Senator Corker, the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, walks away from CRPD negotiations.  He announces that he cannot support the treaty.  This temporarily slows progress on CRPD negotiations.

December 21, 2013 to March, 2014 – It quickly becomes clear that other Republican Senators who had been supporting the CRPD are continuing to strongly support US ratification.  They do not intend to follow Senator Corker’s example in walking away from negotiations.  Grassroots supporters of the CRPD continue to educate others about the treaty and advocate with Senators to re-start the negotiations process.  Democrat and Republican Senators who support the CRPD continue to work behind the scenes to find a resolution.  Advocates continue to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to raise awareness of the campaign.  Common hash tags include #ISupportCRPD, #CRPD and (less frequently) #DisabilitiesTreaty.  Some CRPD supporters also use a range of other hash tags that reach wider and more mainstream audiences, such as #HumanRights, #CivilRights, #SocialJustice, etc.

April, May, June 2014 – Hints and rumors of possible progress in behind-the-scenes negotiations give CRPD advocates a fresh infusion of energy.  Updates and action alerts for the ratification campaign are often shared at http://disabilitytreaty.org and at the CRPD News and Updates page at the website for the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD)  People can sign up to receive action alerts via email at http://disabilitytreaty.org/app/register?1&m=9605.

July 22, 2014 – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a “mark-up” hearing on the CRPD, in which it agrees upon amendments for the CRPD.  (Amendments for international treaties are more formally known as “Reservations”, “Understandings”, and “Declarations”, referred to with the acronym RUDs.  RUDs are basically statements by a country explaining how they intend to interpret an international treaty.)  At the end of the July 22nd hearing, at a few moments past noon EST, the CRPD was voted “out of committee” with a 12-6 vote.

What Comes Next?

  • Now that the treaty has been sent “out of committee,” Senator Reid will be able to decide if and when to schedule a time for the full Senate floor to vote on the CRPD.  People who support the CRPD need to continue asking Senators to schedule a vote and ratify the treaty.  Advocates need to keep asking as many times as it takes for Senators to listen.  More guidance, and a sign-up page for the CRPD Action Alert mailing list, is available at the Action Center at http://disabilitytreaty.org/action.
  • Of course, a vote can only be called while the Senate is in session.  The U.S. Senate is on August recess and will return to session on September 8th.  Most Senators use their August recess to meet with constituents in their home state, so this can be a great time for local advocacy.  Consider setting up a meeting in person with your Senator or their staff: http://bit.ly/MeetSenators.
  • Once a date is put on the calendar for the vote, advocates will need to further ramp up efforts to ask all 100 Senators to support the treaty.  This can include multiple phone calls, Senator office visits, emails, etc.

What Can  I Do to Help?