This is why I cannot understand those who oppose the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), or Disability Treaty. People we met abroad could also not understand why our country has not yet ratified the treaty. I was embarrassed to have to confirm that our country had not. The countries we visited varied widely in their economic well-being, religions, and attitudes toward people with disabilities -- but all had ratified the Treaty and were proud to say it.
In Accra, Ghana, advocates told us about their difficulties changing the mindsets or attitudes shaped by simple lack of awareness about people with disabilities. They shared that many in their country still believe, for example, that children with intellectual and other disabilities are "children of God" and should be removed from the community. One child in this advocate's community had been "left by the river to be eaten by a python"! (see more about our visit to Ghana)
These African advocates also told us that they had developed their own disability rights law in 2006. However, when we were visiting, they were still trying to publicize the new law and get the legislature to provide the resources necessary to implement its provisions. The international treaty, signed by Ghana in 2007, is helping them bring attention to the urgent needs of the 5 million Ghanians with disabilities. Ghana formally ratified the Treaty on Augus 21, 2012 affirming its commitment to respect the human rights of all its citizens, including those with disabilities.
It's time for the United States to do the same! Although ratification does not create new laws in America, it will result in a multitude of positive results for both Americans with disabilities as well as U.S. business at home and abroad. In addition to reaffirming the traditional American values of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity, and providing a forum to advance these values worldwide, ratification also serves to encourage and guide other parties to the treaty, benefits U.S. business, and ensures accessibility in the workforce for the estimated 1 billion individuals with disabilities around the world.
I have contacted my Senators to urge them to ratify the treaty. Have you?
We have also set up a new Facebook page to encourage discussion and create momentum around U.S. ratification this Fall https://www.facebook.com/#!/RatifyCRPD