Recently, news came out that Senators from both sides of the aisle are supporting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This treaty, while signed by President Obama in 2009, still needs ratification by the U.S. Senate to have full effect here in America. This bipartisan support is promising not only for a frequently-gridlocked Senate, but the fate of this historic, yet stalled, treaty.
There has been a concerning argument by those opposing the treaty that ratification will override U.S. law and force those in our country to have additional legal and financial obligations. These fears are not only unfounded, but contrary to what would happen if the treaty goes into effect.
As pointed out by the U.S. International Council on Disabilities in a recent press release, the treaty is consistent with the myriad of disability rights laws already on the books, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The treaty does not change U.S. law. One specific critique is that the treaty will, per its Article 32, mean more expenditures for accessible technology. Aside from the fact that justice and fairness calls for information accessibility already, there are currently efforts by the Department of Justice to make websites and other technology accessible under the ADA.
As the press release also notes, an advantage of ratifying the treaty is that it will enable the U.S. to sit on international bodies that will help develop and enforce the treaty world-wide. With the America’s strong track record of enacting laws to protect people with disabilities, our country’s experience and knowledge would serve other countries well as they move forward in attaining disability rights for their citizens.