Paralympians Call on Congress to Ratify the Disability Treaty
April 3, 2014
Washington, DC -- As athletes who represented the United States in this year’s Paralympic Games in Sochi are honored at a ceremony at the White House, a coalition of Paralympians urged members of Congress to support U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Treaty). The treaty is a simple framework designed to help other nations develop standards like the Americans with Disabilities Act and improve accessibility worldwide. 158 countries have signed the Disability Treaty, and 143 of those have ratified it. Unfortunately, the United States is among those who have, as yet, failed to ratify the treaty. In order for this treaty to be effective, it needs the support of the United States, and the knowledge and tools the U.S. brings to the table after decades of promoting community accessibility.
The group of Paralympians released the following statement:
“We are so proud to see our fellow Paralympians honored in Washington, DC today. Unfortunately, there remains a glaring injustice against Paralympic athletes and other people with disabilities, which Congress has still failed to address.
Paralympians often face significant challenges when competing abroad, struggling to access public transportation or accessible restrooms outside the designated Olympic/Paralympic area, not to mention widespread infrastructure accessibility problems. These are challenges that are also faced every day by one billion people with disabilities worldwide, including Americans with disabilities who wish to travel abroad, because many other countries do not have the same accessibility standards we have here at home. While most Americans—disabled or not—take infrastructure accommodations, technology, and attitudinal acceptance for granted, no other country resembles what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has done in the U.S. over the last 24 years.
Unless the United States ratifies the Disability Treaty, this injustice will not be remedied. We are hopeful that, inspired by the courage and dedication of the Paralympians who competed in Sochi, Congress will allow the United States to lead the global community seeking to develop and implement accessibility standards, working to create a world that is more accessible to people with disabilities. It is a simple matter of justice and equal rights. There is no better American export.”
In Sochi, on March 7, at a press conference on the CRPD, International Paralympic Committee chairman Sir Philip said, “I think the Paralympic sport movement supports the convention, not the other way around. We're about sport, we're about performance, and we’re about changing perceptions in people's minds instantaneously from what may have been a semi-negative perception to very positive.”
For more information about the treaty, visit www.disabilitytreaty.org.