Why Isn't the United States Standing Up for Disability Rights?

Posted by Reveca Torres

I feel lucky to live in the United Sates as a person with a disability, but I still experience inequalities daily. I am paralyzed due to a car accident, but I have had access to a wheelchair that allows me freedom to leave my bed, move in my home, hold a job, drive an adapted vehicle and even travel the world. It's not always smooth sailing but I am in a country where I can complain or voice my frustrations and find power in numbers.

This is not the case for the majority of people with disabilities who live across the globe.  Many live in poverty, without access to healthcare and support they may need. In fact, discrimination against the disabled is a common practice in the United States and developing nations alike. But we can change that.

According to Matthew Reeve, Christopher Reeve's son, “The United States has an opportunity to take on a leadership role in the field of disability rights and effect real change on a global level. Recently, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held two hearings on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, commonly known as the Disability Treaty. This is a required prerequisite before the Senate votes on ratification, likely within the coming months. Based largely on the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the treaty can go a long way toward ensuring that people with disabilities around the world are not discriminated against. Currently, 137 nations have ratified it. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of them.

In December 2012, the treaty missed being ratified in the Senate by five votes. Remarkably, claims that the treaty would affect U.S. policy on abortion and on the home-schooling of our nation's children led some senators to balk. These claims are pure myth. This treaty has absolutely nothing to do with abortion, and it would not in any way affect the rights of home-schooled children and their parents.”

I was surprised and frustrated- What harm could be done by improving the lives of people with disabilities, giving us dignity and allowing us the fundamental rights we are all inherently entitled to simply because we are human?

Let's fight for disability rights. Become an advocate here.

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