Thursday, May 8, 2014

The CRPD and Six Degrees of Separation, Take 2

This is the sample exchange I promised several blog posts ago. You might be able to use it when you reach the person who knows the senator, who has not taken a position yet on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Hopefully your contact will be able to convince the senator to support the CRPD.

It may take one, two or several phone calls or other types of contact to identify a person, who knows a particular senator well AND is comfortable/willing to talk to the senator about the CRPD. Be patient .

FIRST THING ON THE PERSON'S MIND:  WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME?

Introduction -- I am ( insert your name). I was given your name by (insert the name of the person who gave you this contact).

Why you are calling -- I am looking for someone who knows Senator (insert Senator's name) well and I hope you are that person.

SECOND THING ON THE PERSON'S MIND:  WHO ARE YOU?

Background -- (Insert something about yourself, where you work or the fact that you are an advocate for people with disabilities). I would greatly appreciate it if you would reach out to (insert Senator's name) and encourage him to support ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, also called the CRPD.

The Senate almost passed the CRPD in December 2012, but it fell five votes short. Right now many of us are working to identify people like you who will help us. We need at least six votes more this time around. We anticipate the possibility of Senate action on the CRPD sometime this summer.

(f you get this far, you have a chance.)

THIRD THING ON THIS PERSON'S MIND: I CAN'T TALK TO MY FRIEND, THE SENATOR, ABOUT A UN TREATY. I DONT KNOW ENOUGH.

CRPD Talking Points:  

1.  The CRPD is a UN disability rights treaty that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. Over 140 countries have already ratified this treaty. The president has signed the treaty for the U.S., but the Senate has not yet taken action on ratification. Only the Senate is required to vote on it, not the House of Representatives.

2.  The CRPD is like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It requires that people with disabilities, in any country which ratifies the treaty, have the same rights and opportunities available to them that are available to other people in that country.

3.  If ratification occurs in the U.S., no U.S. laws would need to be changed and no new costs would be generated.

4.  Ratification is supported by over 800 organizations, many businesses, veterans, and millions of people with disabilities, their families and friends. 

5.  Benefits if the Senate ratifies the CRPD:  If the U.S. ratifies the CRPD, experts from the U.S. will have the opportunity to sit on committees that set standards on things like accessibility in the environment and assistive technology. Experts from the U.S. will have the opportunity to provide products, services, technical assistance and training to other countries who want to learn how to comply with the CRPD. People with disabilities from the U.S. will have an easier time working and traveling abroad. If they encounter barriers related to disability they can notify the U.S. government and the U.S. government can take action to encourage the country involved to make necessary changes consistent with the CRPD. 

6.  Negative consequences if the Senate does not ratify the CRPD:  Other countries, which have ratified the CRPD, will be able to influence standard setting and seize business opportunities that should have gone to U.S. companies and experts. People with disabilities, living and/or traveling overseas, when they are aware of or encounter disability-related barriers or discrimination, will have no mechanism to request or bring about desired change.

7.  Objections to the CRPD:  The strongest objections to ratification of the disability rights treaty are concerns about parents' rights, U.S. sovereignty and access to reproductive healthcare services. 

8.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has draft language for a resolution on the disability rights treaty to address each of these concerns. The chairman of the committee, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, is the person to talk to about the effects of this draft language and to discuss options for making it clearer.

FIFTH THING ON THE PERSON'S MIND:  WHAT DOES THE CALLER WANT ME TO DO?

Contact Senator (insert name) and ask if the senator would consider supporting the CRPD, given the wide range of benefits that would subsequently occur. (Be willing to email the eight talking points, you just shared, to the person.)

SIXTH THING ON THE PERSON'S MIND:  WHAT IF I NEED HELP?

Assure the person to whom you are speaking that you are willing to provide additional information if he/she needs it.

End of conversation -- Thank the person for his/her time. Provide him/her with all of your contact information. Arrange a specific time to follow up with the person after he/she had spoken to the senator.

We have six weeks until the 24th anniversary of the ADA. Let's use this time to find these very important people and ask them to help us get the votes we need to ensure ratification by July 26, 2014.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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