Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disability Treaty

October 25, 2013

The Disability Treaty is Back!


Last December, the U.S. came close-VERY close-to ratifying the Disability
Rights Treaty. Five Senators who voted 'No' stood in the path of the 2/3
vote required to ratify a treaty that protects the rights of people with
disabilities. Last year we lost, in part, because the Homeschool Legal
Defense Association used misinformation and scare tactics with homeschool
parents to out-call supporters of the treaty by a margin of 100 to 1.  We
cannot let this happen again!

The Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities is the vital
framework to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities across
the world. Inspired by our own Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which
served as the model for the Treaty, the CRPD protects the values of
independence, respect, and dignity for individuals with disabilities. 

More than 700 American organizations, from disability groups, 20+ veterans'
service organizations (most recently the American Legion), businesses
associations, and faith-based organizations have pledged their support to
this treaty.  The United States signed the CRPD in 2009. It's time for our
Senators to ratify the treaty.


Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee,
announced his intention to hold hearings and a markup on the Treaty soon. He
is singularly focused and committed to passing the CRPD this year.  Two
hearings dates are currently scheduled for Nov. 5 and 12.  The Senator has
said it is important that the disability, civil rights, veterans, and
business communities come together to overcome the strong opposition.  

Currently 61 Senators out of the 67 needed have indicated support for the
Treaty, including several strong Republicans (McCain, AZ; Barrasso, WY;
Ayotte, NH; Kirk, IL; Murkowski, AK; Collins, ME).  At least 6 more
committed senators are necessary to reach the 2/3rd (67) votes to ratify the
treaty.  We have identified 14 senators, listed further below, we believe
could be persuaded to vote for the Treaty. Our job is to make sure these
Senators understand the Treaty, how important the Treaty is to the
disability, veterans, and business communities, and to get them to commit to
voting "YES" during the Committee markup!  The Treaty will not go to the
Senate floor for a vote unless WE can get firm commitments for the 67 votes

Please take as many of the following action steps as you can to help us
Ratify the Treaty Now.


1.      Sign the on-line I Support the Disability Treaty Petition
<>  now!

2.      Call your U.S. Senators and tell them that you support the
Disability Treaty.  If you have called them before, call them again!

.         Visit the CRPD Action Center
<>  to find out the name of
your US Senators  (scroll down and enter your zip code).  It will take you
through the steps to call and email your Senators; or

.         Dial the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the
office of your Senators

.         Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you
represent (if any)

.         Use the talking points below to state your position and ask for a
commitment to vote for the Disability Treaty (or at least be open to
learning more at the upcoming hearings before saying no)

.         Pass this alert along to other people and coalitions that support
the treaty

3.      Email your Senators directly using the CRPD Action Center
<> .  It literally only takes a
minute! A sample letter is provided. 

4.      Tweet both of your Senators to show your support.  Click here
<>  for
list of your Senators Twitter IDs.  Remember to use #Disability Treaty for
each tweet you send. 

Sample Tweet:  "Let's promote respect for everyone's inherent dignity.
@(SenatorID) I urge you to support passage of #DisabilityTreaty for
Americans with Disabilities."

5.      Come to the hearings on Nov. 5 and 12! We need to pack the hearing
to show support.  If you can't travel to D.C., hold viewing parties and
tweet, call, and email during the hearings.

6.      Tell Us you have acted by emailing
<> .  We need to be able to show that our supporters
are taking action.


* Ratification opens new markets for American products, technologies
and services and will put the US in the best position to export technologies
for people with disabilities worldwide.  Many businesses, such as IBM,
Consumer Electronics Association, Adobe, AT&T and the US Chamber of Commerce
support the Treaty (see more on business support
<> ).
* Ratification helps thousands of Veterans by improving physical,
technological, and communication access outside the US (see Statement by Bob
Dole <> , Senator and Disabled
* Ratification provides the U.S. with the best tools to pressure other
countries to end abuse of people with disabilities, and to make their public
infrastructure accessible to people with disabilities (see the CCD report:
Neglected and Abused Abroad: A Look at the Severe Mistreatment of
Individuals with Disabilities Around the World and How the U.S. Can Help
* Ratification reinforces America's global leadership, putting us in
the strongest position to advance disability rights worldwide and to promote
the rights and values the U.S. established under the ADA, while having no
impact on U.S. sovereignty. 
* Republican and Democratic Attorneys General
<> , and past Counsel
to Presidents (see President Bush <>
letter) support the treaty, finding U.S. domestic law already in compliance
with the principals and rights contained within the treaty.
* The CRPD is budget neutral on federal, state, and local governments.

* This treaty is good for American business and for the world. It will
allow us to bring our knowledge of making a society accessible to the whole
* Reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) --added to
explain U.S. interpretation and obligations under the treaty -- address all
the issues raised by the opposition.  

For more information, including the text of the Treaty, please see <>  and the
Ratify CRPD Facebook Page <>  that now
has over 4,000 followers.


All Senators, but especially these current targets:

Corker (TN), Ranking member 

Cochran (MS)

Portman (OH)

Coburn (OK)

Flake (AZ) 

Isakson (GA) 

Chambless (GA) 

Fisher (NE) 2012

Johnson (WI) 

Johanns (NE) 

Blunt (MO)

Alexander (TN)

Coats (IN)

Boozman (AR)

We know this is a lot to ask, but if the disability community can't come
together to push the Disability Treaty now, we may not have another chance
for a long time.  PLEASE ACT NOW!

Eric Bridges

Director of External Relations and Policy 

American Council of the Blind

2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650

Arlington, VA 22201

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