Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Vote Against People with Disabilities

Around the world, 126 countries have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of those countries.

Today, all but eight Republicans in the Senate voted against ratifying the treaty, which
was modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Senate actually voted 61-38 in favor of ratification, but a full two-thirds majority was required -- and the count was five votes short.

The treaty was supported by disability advocates, veterans groups, and prominent Republican leaders, including former Senator Bob Dole and Senator John McCain.

I'll let two senators explain for themselves why they voted the way they did:

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.): "It really isn't controversial. What this treaty says is very simple. It just says that you can't discriminate against the disabled. It says that other countries have to do what we did 22 years ago when we set the example for the world and passed the Americans with Disabilities Act."

On the other hand, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) apparently doesn't think too highly of the United Nations, saying "I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society."

While supporters of the treaty made the case that the treaty would not change American law, opponents like the Heritage Action for America claimed that it would lead to more abortions, interfere with the rights of parents to homeschool their children, and "erode the principles of American sovereignty and federalism." As crazy as it sounds, those arguments were enough to persuade 38 Republican senators to go on record as opposing the rights of people with disabilities. I wonder if disability groups will remember those 38 when they run for reelection.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Proclamation: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today President Obama signed a proclamation commemorating the 20th International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The proclamation states in part:

"...we reaffirm that the struggle to ensure the rights of every person does not end at our borders, but extends to every country and every community. It continues for the woman who is at greater risk of abuse because of a disability and for the child who is denied the chance to get an education because of the way he was born. It goes on for the 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide who all too often cannot attend school, find work, access medical care, or receive fair treatment.

"These injustices are an affront to our shared humanity -- which is why the United States has joined 153 other countries around the world in signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls on all nations to establish protections and liberties like those afforded under the Americans with Disabilities Act. While Americans with disabilities already enjoy these rights at home, they frequently face barriers when they travel, conduct business, study, or reside overseas.

"Ratifying the Convention in the Senate would reaffirm America's position as the global leader on disability rights and better position us to encourage progress toward inclusion, equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities worldwide."

Read the full proclamation on the White House's website.

Disability Scoop

Special Ed News (Education Week)

Special Education Law