A Message From USICD President Marca Bristo
USICD President Marca Bristo.
We have arrived at an exciting moment in the expansion of disability rights around the world. Today, 153 countries have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the United States, which signed the treaty in 2009. USICD applauds the Obama Administration for now taking that next important step: completing a thorough review of the CRPD and sending to the U.S. Senate last month a proposal for the U.S. to ratify this important disability treaty. With the input of the disability community, the Administration has presented a package that adheres to U.S. disability law and protects U.S. sovereignty.
The work that our members make possible has enabled us to reach countless Americans to raise awareness of the CRPD and build support for ratification. This support is being heard, not only in the calls for ratification coming from the disability community, but also from our friends in the broader human rights field, the veterans’ community, and others. We could not be prouder of the diverse movement that is now lifting its voice in support for ratification, which includes over 165 disability organizations and 21 veterans and military service organizations. Read more recent CRPD updates here.
On May 25, 2012, seven bipartisan Senators announced their support for ratification. These Senators have reminded Americans that disability is a universal experience and knows no party. This support has put a new gust of wind in our sails, and we do not want to lose this momentum! USICD members and friends across the disability community are already calling for a hearing on the treaty in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—one of a few important steps that must be completed before the full Senate can vote on it. We will keep you informed of progress and we ask you to stand ready for more action as the effort to ratify the CRPD moves forward.
Upon ratification, we will join today’s 112 other countries and the European Union that have ratified. U.S. ratification will bolster disability rights efforts in nations abroad that look to us in considering their own national policies. Some of these countries already have drawn upon pioneering legislation in the United States, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, as inspiration for building their laws to realize the vision of the CRPD. Ratification will also allow for the US to nominate a representative to a seat on the international Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CRPD around the world. Through this mechanism, we can share our technical knowledge and create a more welcoming world for our students, veterans, and all Americans who study, work, and travel abroad. We can join our neighbors around the world in solidarity, and together pioneer new paths toward greater accessibility, inclusion, and equality for the world’s one billion people with disabilities.
This key moment for the CRPD in the United States coincides with other recent achievements globally and for USICD, and in this annual report you will see why your continued support for USICD is truly making good things happen. The Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) team has now begun to ship out eGranary Digital Libraries to over 60 locations in 12 countries, distributing a collection of 2.5 million documents on disability rights and related topics. Already, organizations have begun to use content from the GDRL to strengthen the training materials and workshops that they develop for use in their local communities as they build their own momentum toward inclusive societies.
The most important change agent in our work is the USICD membership. USICD members supply the perseverance, energy, and ideas that make all our efforts possible. If you are already a USICD member, thank you. If you have not yet joined the USICD family, we would be delighted to welcome you as a member of a pioneering organization working to build bridges between disability communities around the world.