Sunday, July 15, 2012

On our way to making history

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending the hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  I just have to say, "Wow!" What an incredible experience.  I listened in on the arguments for and against the convention, and both sides had legitimate points.  The chairman on the convention was Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), who was very hilarious and charismatic.  A quoted I liked from him was, "Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed unless it is faced," meaning we as a disability community need do all that is within our power to voice our concerns and push for change.  Others who are not in the same position don't understand the challenges we go through, but we can help them to understand a little more.  There is great power in numbers, so we need to mobilize our communities in capitals of the 50 states to exercise our democracy and fight for this convention! Here are some of the senators present: Senators McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Harkin (D-IA), Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE), and Udall (D-NM), Lee (R-UT).

Senator McCain

Liz, Dwight, Me, Rhonda, Dana, Yoshiko, and Allie

As DeMint, who was obviously against the convention was leaving, Senator Kerry said, "Oh you're leaving...I was about to welcome you to the supporters group." I couldn't believe how hilarious and real he was in that room.  I always thought he was tons more serious.  Who knew?!?

There were so many supporters for the convention within the Senate that I am optimistic it will be floored next week (I really, really hope so).  I can't emphasize how important this convention is for our disabled citizens abroad--military personnel, students, tourists, workers, govt. officials, ex-pats, etc. in order to have accessibility wherever they go.  This document is centered on the equal rights that every disabled person deserves in their communities--quite important.  Although this convention is nonbinding and countries are not obliged to follow, it does begin talks on a very important issue that affects millions of lives (everyone reaches a point of disability in their lives) and allows the U.S. more say in this matter at the table.  Countries who have ratified it are required to send a follow-up report every two years.   It sounds like a pretty good start to me.  To read more about the convention, Click Here.

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