Saturday, January 25, 2014

CRPD Ratification:  It Is Up to Us

I started blogging about ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on August 9, 2013. I thought by taking on CRPD-related topics one at a time, by not getting too much into the weeds, by using non-jargon as much as possible, and by addressing possible consequences in terms of probabilities, that most people would decide that ratification was a good idea, and therefore, help make it happen before 2014.

Well, I have had almost 5,000 views of my blog and 2014 is here, and the path to ratification is uncertain. Although I have spent most of my professional life involved in the disability policy arena, I was usually on the "inside" where people advocated for something to me. Now with this blog experience I know it is a challenge to get people's attention, keep it, and even more challenging to inspire people to take an action and then another and another.

I am an optimistic person, but I now know I am naive. Most people have many things competing for their attention in the course of a day. An international treaty is foreign (no pun intended) to most people. Its relevance to them is not there. The connection to people has to be made. I think that has happened. Through  the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, David Morrissey ( no relation to me), its CEO, Marca Bristol, its president, and its staff, and other national figures (Senator Bob Dole, formerAttorney General Dick Thornburgh, Patria Wright and others with the Disabilities Rights and Education Defense Fund, former Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, Wade Henderson, head of the Leadership Conference, former Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former House whip Tony Coelho, former Representative Steve Bartlett, former Counselor to President George H.W. Bush, Boyden Gray and others), many, many organizations and people have joined hands to push for ratification of the CRPD. As a result all Senators know ratification is important to the disability community. Opponents to ratification know that ratification is important to the disability community. So on one level we have been successful.

The risk we face is that if we do not succeed in achieving ratification early in 2014, it won't happen for a long time. And, if we fail, the next time we join hands to advocate for a policy that would benefit people with disabilities, any policy, elected officials may blow us off, because we are viewed as not that strong or effective a force for change.

There is so much more at stake than the CRPD. Please stay or become engaged now. Help us secure ratification. Contact your Senators. Urge ratification, even if you have done so previously. The facts are on our side. Time is not. 

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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