Tony Coelho Calls for Your Support for CRPD Ratification

July 19, 2010

On this 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have much to be proud of as a community.  A little more than twenty years ago, we embarked on a historic journey in advancing civil rights for Americans with disabilities.  We came together with one voice, putting aside our political and other differences, to work toward this cause, and we were joined by our partners in Congress, who put aside their differences to do the same.  And this unity and bipartisan spirit both within our community and in Congress led to our success.  We could not fully imagine then the profound impact our civil rights struggle and work to pass the ADA would have for people with disabilities around the world.  Today, inspired by the ADA, our brothers and sisters in scores of countries have worked to pass their own pioneering legislation to protect and promote their inherent human and civil rights.

What’s more, the world community came together at the United Nations at the start of this century and did something that is changing the world.  They worked to create international law recognizing, protecting, and promoting the rights of all people with disabilities—the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Americans with disabilities joined them in this effort, sharing our experience with the ADA to strengthen the provisions of this human rights legislation.  The disability rights movement now encompasses a global community. 

But our work to strengthen and implement the promise of equal rights for people with disabilities at home and abroad remains unfinished.  We have no doubt created a pillar of domestic law, but we must now work to ensure that the United States remains a global leader in the disability rights arena by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which President Obama signed last July.  Ratifying this landmark treaty will not only advance the promise of the ADA at home, it will give the disability rights movement a new vigor abroad with the clear message that the United States affirms the inherent dignity and human rights of all people with disabilities.

I am excited by the energy and enthusiasm of USICD in working toward CRPD ratification.  I want to thank USICD President, Marca Bristo, and our Executive Director, David Morrissey, for their leadership in this effort.  I ask you to join with me in supporting USICD in the important effort of making CRPD ratification in the United States a reality.  When the Obama Administration completes its review and submits the CRPD to the U.S. Senate for its consent for ratification, we must come together as the American disability community and proclaim “Yes to Ratification.”  Today, 87 countries have already ratified the CRPD.  By joining in this community, we can share our great expertise and leadership in furtherance of the democratic values enshrined in the CRPD.  The CRPD is good for people with disabilities, good for America, and good for the world.