by Terry Moakley
I’m guessing that not too many veterans with disabilities have paid all that much attention to the current effort in the U.S. Senate about the CRPD. I’ll go one step further. I’m also thinking that many disabled vets don’t know what the CRPD is. It’s the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and its ratification by the Senate will make the United States the 118th nation to adopt it. Frankly, I was surprised to learn that 117 countries around the planet had approved this treaty before us.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities encourages similar protections throughout the world as found in the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and other important U.S. disability laws. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Sadly, a small group advocating under the guise of “parental rights” is pushing the Senate not to ratify the CRPD, claiming absurdly that its adoption will destroy “home schooling,” and that the next objective will be providing “rights” to kids, and thereby turning the United States of America into a nation run by six year-olds.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Today’s reality is that we live in a global economy, so more and more jobs require Americans—including Americans with disabilities—to be able to travel around the world to meet the requirements of their job. It’s that simple, but at the same time, it’s just the right action for this great nation to take.
If you are a younger vet with a disability, it’s very possible that you may need to travel abroad to do your job. It will be easier to do this if there is adequate access wherever your work takes you
I’ve had some kind of official position with this organization dating back to 1968, and I know that it was veterans with disabilities like me who helped to get better building codes adopted not just in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area but around our country, and who played a role in the passage of such major federal laws as the Air Carrier Access Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act’s disability protections and the ADA.
There’s a brief history about the CRPD that vets should know about, too. The process started in the U.S. in 2006 when a delegation appointed by President George W. Bush negotiated its terms with representatives from many other nations. Then in 2009, the U.S. signed the CRPD, and its ratification by the Senate is the last step in the process for our country to become the 118th to support equal rights for all persons with disabilities worldwide.
I guess I will wrap this piece by recalling a few places I’ve been to of late that really made me appreciate the access we have here. In 2008 and 2009, I went to conferences in Minneapolis and St. Louis respectively where I took new, accessible trolley systems to and from my accessible hotels. And, last year and just last month, I travelled on accessible Amtrak trains and accessible Washington, DC Metro subway trains to advocate for the passage of laws that will improve benefits for veterans, disabled or not. So, help me get the CRPD done now by contacting your two U.S. Senators and urging them to vote YES on the CRPD!