This week was an exciting week, both at my internship and in the Senate, where they held hearings on several important issues this week. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the July 12th Foreign Relations Committee Senate hearing regarding ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Senator John Kerry is the Chairman of the Committee and he did an excellent and amusing job at keeping everyone under control and making sure arguments were laid out and questions were answered. I am very proud that he is my Senator and that I interned for him in the past. Senators McCain and Harkin were also present to show their support for the CRPD. We also got to hear testimony from many individuals, including Judy Heumann and Former Attorney General & Governor of Pennsylvania, Dick Thornburgh. It was exciting getting to witness my first Congressional hearing and to be sitting alongside so many disability advocates, including my fellow interns, who are working hard to get this bill passed by July 26th, the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can view the full video of the Committee Hearing here: http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/hearing_convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-treaty-doc-112-7.
This week was also a good one in my internship at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), culminating in an exciting day on Friday, when my office had a meeting with the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA). NDLA is a national cross-disability coalition, led by national organizations run by people with disabilities that have grassroots constituencies of people with disabilities around the country. This includes organizations like AAPD, NCIL, and ASAN (Autistic Self-Advocacy Network). This meeting was a great chance for OPM to share the work that it is doing to get more people with disabilities hired into the Federal Government and to gain new ideas from different disability organizations about how to improve this effort and reach more people with disabilities. I learned a lot both from both this meeting and the CRPD Hearing this week and it shows me that people with disabilities are continuing to advocate and make progress in a variety of ways, whether it is local, national, or international.