When I was a staff member in the House and then the Senate, I had the opportunity to work with Senator Harkin and his former disability counselor/staff director, Bobby Silverstein, on most disability legislation. Senator Harkin has reached out to us, asking for our personal stories about barriers we encountered when we traveled or worked in other countries. In a simple, straightforward video (http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/crpdstories.cfm) he explains the connection between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). He points out the importance of ratification of the CRPD. Over 140 countries have ratified the CRPD. The U.S. has not done so yet. It is the Senate's job to ratify it.
I have written 58 blog posts here on the CRPD. I have had over 7,000 viewers. Recently I lamented that what we were getting from the Senate was silence. It's hard to build momentum with silence. Now with Senator Harkin's message he has broken the silence, and with our stories, will have the ammunition to inspire his colleagues to ratify the CRPD. So tell Senator Harkin your story.
If the U.S. doesn't ratify the treaty, it will have no voice when international standards on accessibility are being developed; fewer and fewer opportunities to help others learn from our experience with the ADA; and no legitimate basis to intervene when Americans with disabilities face discrimination abroad. We don't want that.
Please watch Senator Harkin's video and send him your story. Mine is a doozy! I went to Beijing in 2004. I discovered there were very few western style bathrooms with toilets. The Chinese option was not something I could use. So, I gave up drinking liquids out in public for 9 days. Can you top that?
We probably have four months to make ratification of the CRPD happen. Please contact Senator Harkin and share your story with him. He's waiting for it. Don't disappoint him. There is so much at stake.