12/03/2012

Please take action today—this afternoon and early tomorrow—and contact your U.S. senators to urge them to vote yes to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Senate will take up the CRPD tomorrow (December 4) at noon. It is fitting that we take this action today, as we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The CRPD has strong support, with every major disability organization supporting it and the business community also expressing support. Unfortunately, some political leaders who resist international efforts are spreading lies about the impact of the CRPD on laws in the United States. In short, the CRPD will have no impact on U.S. law, which already sets the standard worldwide for disability rights and accessibility.

Because a two-thirds vote is needed for Senate ratification, all Senators should be contacted to urge them to support the convention. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Also, the following senators are considered particularly important in the effort to secure the votes needed to ratify the CRPD. If you live in one of these states, please make a special effort to contact the senator on this list. So far, these senators have not expressed support for the CRPD:

  • Chambliss (GA)
  • Isakson (GA)
  • Grassley (IA)
  • Moran (KS)
  • Blunt (MO)
  • Heller (NV)
  • Portman (OH)
  • Hutchison (TX)
  • Hatch (UT)

During a recent trip to Thailand for the World Blind Union, I was reminded of just how important the convention is for people with disabilities. Basic access and human rights are not available to people with disabilities in many nations. Over and over again, I was asked why the United States hasn't ratified the single most important statement ever written to express the accessibility and rights that should be provided to people with disabilities. The world is watching and hoping that, again, the United States will demonstrate leadership and send a clear message about the importance and worth of individuals with disabilities.

Helen Keller, who gave more than four decades of her extraordinary life in service to the American Foundation for the Blind and to all people with disabilities, was a formidable advocate for justice and champion of change for many within our society and around the world whose talents and potential are far too often overlooked. Her legacy of confident hope in the human spirit continues to inspire the world today. As Helen Keller once noted, "Only governments that keep every door of opportunity wide open are civilized governments...civilization means a fair chance to live.... It means health and freedom and education for all men."

Over the weekend, an editorial ran in The Washington Post, "Vote Yea on Disabilities," which made the case for support quite effectively. Please take a look and contact your senator today.

For further information, you can link to a CRPD Handout

And, you can find your Senator's contact information on the U.S. Senate website.

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