Friday, July 31, 2009

International Perspectives on Disability Rights

International Perspectives on Disability Rights
This has been a noteworthy week for the disability community. We are celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the United States of America signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (CRPD) The first human rights convention of the 21st Century, this document calls upon States to provide equal protection under the law, condemn all forms of discrimination and fully include people disabilities in society.
I attended an informative conference to learn the history of this document, network with influential leaders and discuss strategies for implementation after ratification. The conference was sponsored by the United States International Council on Disability, the Federal Transit Administration and the American Public Transportation Association and emphasized issues under the transportation umbrella. Other topics included universal design standards, access to accessible healthcare and independent living outcomes.
Interestingly enough, CRPD is the first United Nations document to require availability in accessible formats, which is extremely significant.
A major theme of this conference was the importance of international cooperation with respect to best practices. While the United States is demonstrated global leadership by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, we also can learn from the policies of other states. Notable examples include floor lowering devices for bus systems modeled after initiatives in the European Union and coalition advocacy between independent living centers and the Japanese legislative body.
As the United States moves to ratify the treaty, multilateral cooperation within the disability community is essential to the implementation of best practices in the promotion of human dignity.

Nathan D Turner

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