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Americans with disabilities applaud President Obama's intention to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Jul 22, 2009



Americans with disabilities applaud President Obama’s intention to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Washington, DC – July 21, 2009

The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD), representing a broad constituency of Americans with disabilities and disability organizations, praised today’s announcement of President Barack Obama’s intention to sign the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“President Obama committed in his campaign to signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and we applaud his leadership.. This treaty is good for America, good for people with disabilities, and good for the world,” says Marca Bristo, President of USICD. “After decades as a global leader in the civil and human rights of persons with disabilities, the United States is reconnecting with the international community by affirming the basic human rights of all people with disabilities and positioning us to better contribute our expertise on the global level.”

On Friday, July 24, 2009, at a ceremony to take place in the White House, President Obama is scheduled to announce the intent of the United States to sign the CRPD. Signature indicates the country’s interest in joining this treaty, and begins a process in which the US Senate will review and provide advice and consent for ratification.

“It is fitting for President Obama to sign the CRPD this week, in commemoration of the 19th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” says Tony Coehlo, former Representative from California in the US House, author of the ADA, current President of the American Association of Persons with Disabilities, and a board member of USICD. The 19th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act is July 26. “When we passed the ADA in 1990, we had no idea what a grand impact on disabled people around the world this legislation would be, or how it would inspire an international treaty of this importance.”

The Convention, or CRPD, addresses established international human rights standards in the context of people with disabilities. This treaty was needed because people with disabilities have historically been invisible in the implementation of international human rights standards. The international drafting process was notable for the inclusion of people with disabilities on official country delegations and as participants in advocacy groups invited to participate, with a rallying slogan of “Nothing about us, without us.”

“This treaty truly reflects the unique insights of disabled people from around the world. The participation of disabled people in decision-making about policies affecting our lives is changing the way we are regarded in our communities and by our governments, ” says Judy Heumann, former Clinton Administration appointee, member of the Board of Directors of USICD, and an authority on disability who participated in the negotiations to draft the treaty. “The invisibility of disabled people that is all too common around the world is changing. This treaty is a major advancement.”

The United Nations estimates that there are 650 million people with disabilities globally. Approximately 87% of the world’s population now resides in countries that have signed or ratified the CRPD. The CRPD addresses barriers that impede the full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in their communities. Its provisions touch on all aspects of daily life, such as education, employment, living independently and being included in community life. Application of the treaty’s provisions is enhancing the opportunities around the world for community access, employment and entrepreneurship, international exchange, and the attainment of an adequate standard of living for all individuals, children and families affected by disability.

The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) is part of a coalition of organizations that support U.S. ratification of the CRPD as a means to broaden protection of the inherent rights of persons with disabilities across the world, and to solidify the rights of persons with disabilities within the United States. The United States led this effort with the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ratification of the Convention will assure the United States continues to lead globally in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.

“This is a historic day in the movement for full equality, access, and inclusion of people with disabilities in America,” says David Morrissey, Executive Director of USICD. “A broad coalition of Americans with disabilities have called for our country to sign this treaty, which upholds the American values of liberty, justice, and equality. We look forward to broad support for this treaty among all Americans, both with and without disabilities.”

USICD is a federation of US-based non-governmental organizations (NGO), government agencies and individuals committed to advocating in support of the international disability community.

For more information, please contact:

Ø David Morrissey, Executive Director,, (202) 207-0338 (office), (301) 787-2598 (mobile phone)

Ø Katherine Guernsey, Director of Education and Outreach,, (202) 207-0338 (office), (202) 413-6366 (mobile phone)

Ø Marca Bristo, President,, (773) 719-3902