Alert: The Senate Returns Today and Needs to Hear from You on the Disability Treaty (CRPD) NOW!

Image of a black hourglass overlaid on black image of the Capitol building.  Text in the image says: Time is running out: Now is the time for the Senate to act! Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): www.disabilitytreaty.org #CRPD

Time is running out: Now is the time for the Senate to act! Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): http://www.disabilitytreaty.org #CRPD

TIME IS RUNNING OUT:

The Senate Needs to Hear from you NOW!  Ask them to ratify the “Disability Treaty” (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD). This is an important international civil rights treaty for 1 billion people with disabilities around the world.

Today (Sept 8, 2014), the Senate returns for a two week work session. They need to continue to hear from YOU!

Getting the CRPD passed is, in part, a game of numbers: the side that can generate the most calls to Senators has a better chance of winning.  And the opposition has been generating many calls, so we need to match their pace.

CALL your Senators often and spread the word!  See our social media guide below!

Visit www.disabilitytreaty.org to take action!

Friends who are new to the “Disability Treaty” (CRPD) can review these two handouts: http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager and http://bit.ly/CRPDmyths.  Catch up on events in the campaign for U.S. ratification of the CRPD at http://bit.ly/CRPDtimeline.  Read the full text of the CRPD here.

CRPD_Advocates_Say_Vote_Yes!_CRPD

CRPD advocates pose with printed signs saying “Vote YES! CRPD”.

You can also take action on social media! 

  • Make a sign – it can be a simple piece of paper.  Write down that you support CRPD and (if applicable) why.  If you have a personal story, use it! (Example: I support CRPD because I want my sister with a disability to be able to travel abroad!)
  • Take a picture of yourself holding up the sign.
  •  Tweet or Facebook the picture (along with one of the sample tweets below) using the hashtag #CRPD.  You can also tweet at your Senator.   You can find Senator Twitter IDs at: http://bit.ly/CRPDsenators
  • Get your friends to do the same!

Sample Twitter Pictures:

Individual: https://twitter.com/USICD/status/259376999901044736/photo/1

Group: https://twitter.com/Margaret_Gburek/status/398964337098117120

 Sample Tweets:

Ready to do more?

National Disability Treaty Teleconference Call, Wed Feb 26th!

We Support CRPD logoAre you angry to know that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been sitting on an important international human rights treaty that upholds the rights of people with disabilities? Want to help? Or thinking about it? Please join the next national teleconference phone call for youth, student, and other campus leaders who support the Disability Treaty this Wednesday, February 26th! Learn what other advocates have been doing to support the national movement for U.S. ratification of the Disability Treaty, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Start thinking about ways that YOU can help.

You may recall that the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) recently put out a call for volunteers among students and other advocates at U.S. colleges and universities. This could be YOU! We need YOUR energy, idealism, and passion to help the U.S. Senate ratify the Disability Treaty! You can start learning about the treaty at http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager, then learn more at http://disabilitytreaty.org.

The February 26th national phone call will be at 4pm EST (3pm Central Time, 1pm Pacific Time). Please contact Andrea Shettle at ashettle@usicd.org to learn how to dial into the call or connect to the on-line CART service (live transcription of the call). Even 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 more than 800 U.S.-based organizations and many individual advocates that have been asking U.S. Senators to ratify the Disability treaty! Together, we have POWER!

Subsequent calls will be on the following dates:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 4 pm EST (3pm Central Time, 1pm Pacific Time)
Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at 4 pm EST (3pm Central Time, 1pm Pacific Time)

Call for Volunteers for Disability Human Rights Campaign

Dear Prospective Volunteers and Human Disability Rights Advocates:

Did you know that the United States has been missing out on an important opportunity to support human rights for one billion people with disabilities around the world?

The first international human rights treaty to address people with disabilities is trapped in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  This “Disability Treaty”, called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), has been ratified by 141 other countries.  But the United States hasn’t joined them.  And we cannot join them until the Foreign Relations Committee takes action on the Disability Treaty.

We need volunteers like YOU to be involved in the national movement for U.S. ratification of the CRPD.  You can learn more about the treaty at http://bit.ly/CRPD1Pager.

 How can I help?

The easiest way to start is by visiting http://disabilitytreaty.org.  Learn more about what the “Disability Treaty” is and why it matters.  Use the action center to guide you through your first phone calls or emails to key Senators.  Ask them to re-start the negotiation process on the CRPD and move the treaty toward ratification.

We are seeking YOUR STORY to put a FACE to CRPD ratification efforts.  Have you tried to travel abroad for study, work, or recreation and had disability-related challenges?  Please contact Rhonda Neuhaus at rneuhaus@dredf.org or share at http://disabilitytreaty.org.

If you’re ready to do more, you can reach out to Andrea Shettle at ashettle@usicd.org.  She can send you a packet with more information on how to get started, including dial-in and CART instructions for how you can join the next national teleconference call for students and other campus leaders.  These regular calls include updates on the national movement for CRPD ratification and enable participants to exchange ideas for taking action.

Save these dates on your calendar for upcoming national calls:

  • Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at 4 pm EST (3pm Central time, 1 pm Pacific time)
  • Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at 4 pm EST (3pm Central time, 1pm Pacific time)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at 4 pm EST (3pm Central time, 1pm Pacific time)

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

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?

The Disability Treaty: Why Should the US Ratify?

CRPD One Pager 2013CRPD One Pager 2013 2nd

For people who cannot see the images above, I am copy/pasting the text from this two-page flyer on why the U.S. should ratify the Disability Treaty further below. (Or, if you are sighted, click on each image to see it in a larger size.) You also can download the flyer in accessible PDF format.  Let me know at ashettle@patriot.net if you are still having difficulty with accessibility.  The Disability Treaty is more formally known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Ready to take action? There are two petitions for US citizens to sign, one petition by Handicap International and the other petition at Capwiz.  But if you have a few more minutes, then please don’t stop there.  Learn more about what the Disability Treaty is, why the US should ratify, and how to take action at these  websites:

  • http://disabilitytreaty.org: The official CRPD (Disability treaty) website from the U.S. International Council on Disabilities
  • http://bit.ly/Resources4CRPD:  More resources on the CRPD, how to ask Senators to support U.S. ratification of the treaty, and other ways to take action
  • CRPD Updates for action alerts and other news on the Disability Treaty. You also can sign up for USICD’s action alert mailing list here.
  • “Like” the Ratify CRPD Facebook page. Grassroots CRPD advocates across the country are using this Facebook page to exchange ideas for different ways to take action.

Text from “The Disability Treaty” flyer below:

THE DISABILITY TREATY

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international disability treaty that was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities. The CRPD is a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the world that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was the model for the CRPD, which values of independence and respect and concept of reasonable accommodation are echoed throughout the treaty.

The United States signed the CRPD in 2009. On December 4, 2012 the United States Senate considered the ratification of the CRPD but fell 5 votes short of the super-majority vote required. The media coverage of the Senate’s failure to ratify the disability treaty has been overwhelming and the CRPD’s Senate leaders remain committed to bringing the disability treaty up in the 113th Congress.

Why should the U.S. ratify the CRPD when we have the ADA?

Ratification of the CRPD Exports U.S. Leadership ● A broad coalition of over 600 U.S. disability, civil rights, faith, business, and veteran organizations support the U.S. ratification of the CRPD holding that American leadership in this arena is critical to the ultimate success of the treaty. ● Ratification is critical to maintaining our leadership role and to eliminating disability discrimination throughout the world and gives the U.S. legitimacy to export the model of the ADA to other countries. ● The absence of U.S. leadership in the CRPD and its Committee of experts matters.

Ratification provides the U.S. an opportunity to play an important and expansive role in the development of disability rights around the world without having to change any U.S. laws or add additional costs to its budget.

VSOs Strongly Support CRPD to Expand Opportunities for Veterans

● Major veteran service organizations, representing veterans of every generation, support ratification of the CRPD. These groups recognize that our 5.5 million American veterans with disabilities will have greater opportunities to work, study, and travel abroad as countries implement the CRPD with leadership from the U.S.

● Military families support the CRPD as well. As one CRPD advocate described, having a disability prevented her husband from being able to serve overseas due to the lack of accessibility for her abroad. “Others had the opportunity to transfer overseas. Because of my disability, that was not an option.”

U.S. Business Supports Ratification of the CRPD to Benefit Business

● The Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Business Leadership Network, and the Information Technology Industry Council support U.S. ratification of the CRPD because it benefits business. ● Many accessible products are engineered, manufactured, or sold by U.S. corporations that can meet the new demands for the world’s population of 1 billion people with disabilities. As one business expressed at a Senate briefing by IBM, Adobe, and other key business

leaders, “Investment follows opportunity. And to the extent we can make these technologies available on a worldwide basis, that’s a bigger market and more opportunity for companies to deliver their products into the world.”

Photo of ADA leader Justin Dart’s hat in his honor at CRPD Senate hearing

Photo of Attendee uses U.S. innovation to participate in CRPD briefing by American business leaders

Photo of VSO Press Conference on CRPD

CRPD Ratification Improves Global Accessibity

● 4 out of 10 American travelers are estimated to be people with disabilities and their companions yet they still face constant barriers and discrimination abroad. ● Students with disabilities represent less than 4% of students that choose to travel abroad.

● Not ratifying the disability treaty is hindering the United States’ ability to provide expertise to many countries seeking to bring their standards of access for persons with disabilities up to those of the United States, which directly affects Americans with disabilities living, working, and traveling abroad.

● By ratifying the CRPD, the U.S. will offer decades of honed technical expertise to reduce barriers globally and ensure that Americans who travel and study abroad have the same access they enjoy here.

CRPD Ratification Ensures Humane and Moral Treatment

● Without laws like the ADA abroad, millions of children and adults are housed in institutions without enrichment of a family life, community resources, or access to the most basic civil rights like a birth certificate or even a name. Until it ratifies the CRPD, the U.S. is a bystander on these critical matters.

● The reason U.S. persuasion, moral authority, and leadership can have such an impact on other countries through the CRPD is because of the stark

discrimination that still exists in many parts of the world. ● U.S. leadership in fighting against discrimination against persons with disabilities such as infanticide and forced exclusion – and teaching about our example of an inclusive society – can make an immense difference.

U.S Ratification of the CRPD Has Strong Bipartisan Support

● Republican leaders of disability legislation support ratification of the CRPD including former President George H.W. Bush, former Senator Bob Dole, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray.

● Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Barrasso (R-WY) led the treaty ratification effort with Senators Kerry (D-MA), Durbin (D-IL), and Harkin (D-IA) in the 112th Congress under shared values of independence, respect, and dignity for all people with disabilities. This bipartisanship leadership for the CRPD continues in the 113th Congress, beginning in January 2013.

QUICK STATS ABOUT THE WORLD’S LARGEST MINORITY 57.8 million Americans have one or more disabilities  5.5 million American veterans are people with disabilities  1 billion people with disabilities around the world

80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries  1 in 4 of today’s 20 year olds will be disabled before they retire  80% of people with disabilities live in isolated rural areas

United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD)

1012 14th Street, NW, Suite 105, Washington, D.C. 20005 Telephone: 202-347-0102 Fax: 202-347-0351 www.usicd.org 

Photo of woman in wheelchair at Dar es Salaam Airport

Photos: Child and teenager with disabilities institutionalized abroad, Courtesy of Disability Rights International

Photo of Advocates for CRPD rally on Capitol Hill for bipartisan support

Five Ways to Support the US #CRPD Ratification Campaign!

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!

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!

Picture of a woman holding a handmade sign with "CRPD" and "support" written and drawn in American Sign Language, the phrase "human rights" and a drawing of the globe  Picture of an older man and woman holding a sign printed from a computer saying "parents of children with disabilities support US ratification of the CRPD"  Picture of 17 people at the Vermont Center for Independent Living holding signs that together say "CRPD"  A woman seated in a wheelchair poses with four papers that together say "CRPD" (holds C and R in her hands, rests P and D on her legs)

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?

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.