Independence. Civil rights. Equality. All of these are words that resonate as America celebrates the Fourth of July. And these words resound, too, as we commemorate the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet, the United States has yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).
Judy Heumann, State Department Special Adviser for International Disability Rights, writes an op-ed in which she argues that the failure to sign onto the Disability Treaty just doesn’t make sense; especially considering our nation’s position as a principal leader in the movement to convey that Disability rights are civil rights. She says:
[W]ith the passage of the ADA, the United States became the first country in the world to adopt national civil rights legislation banning discrimination against people with disabilities in the public and private sector. People from around the world who travelled here saw the changes our country was making and were amazed. We had become the gold standard, and other countries aspired to be just like us.
Heumann goes on to debunk the many myths perpetuated by opponents to ratification and calls for swift action to once again demonstrate leadership and consistent commitment to worldwide freedom, civil rights and equality for people with disabilities.
As the festivities continue for the freedom of the Red White and Blue, we are left with the question: What is to become of our nation’s ranking as the “gold standard” for Disability rights? Will the US finally step up? Or will she remain on the sidelines and set an example detrimental to the rights of people with disabilities everywhere?