Thursday, December 12, 2013

CRPD and the Fake Deaf Interpreter

At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, with 100 world leaders very near him, a man with a solemn, fixed expression, made hand and arm gestures. Few of us knew he was making no sense. Those that did, desperately tried to alert authorities, but were unable to get the man removed from the podium area. This was an embarrassing situation. Most television networks picked the story up days later.  In this coverage often security risk and breech were highlighted. What about the thousands of people in South Africa who are deaf? In the U.S. we have captioning. I do not know whether the event was captioned by any or all those covering it here, but I do know our TV remotes have that "CC" button. From now on, I am going to check, every time I watch a major event.

If we ever needed a reason to ratify the CRPD, this unbelievable, blatant example of discrimination, is one of them. If discrimination like this can a occur on the world stage and no one did anything about it, just think what goes on in every day life when no cameras are around? If we ratify the CRPD we will have a seat at the table when others are deciding on standards for interpreters for the deaf. If not, we will be on the sidelines and perhaps no one will pay attention to or hear us.

The U.S. interpreter community has strong standards and protocols. We could share these with the world, so what happened at the Mandela event, never happens again. We owe it to the people who watched in silence and horror, who were prevented from experiencing the moving tributes to Nelson Mandela in real time, to ratify the CRPD. Please contact the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and tell them to mark up the CRPD resolution to advise and consent now.  

Chairman Menendez: 202.224.4744
Ranking Member Corker: 202.224.3344

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CRPD: What's the Reason for No Committee Action Yet?

President Obama and his appointees have been vigorously advocating for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), especially in the last week. Senator Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, strongly supports ratification. Senator Corker, who has been neutral on ratification, has said we need clear reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) to include with a resolution to ratify. Witnesses, selected by Senator Corker, in two hearings (11/5 and 11/21) provided sample RUDs that address outstanding concerns. Most of the background, needed for a Committee report, exists. Democrats AND Republicans, who support ratification, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, outnumber committee members who oppose it.  All that is needed is a simple majority vote in committee to get the Senate resolution to the Senate floor. The Democrats, who control the Senate and support ratification, have the power to move things along.  People who support ratification have let their feelings be known over and over again, just recall the need for overflow rooms needed for both hearings. And, it is not easy for many people with disabilities to physically get to a congressional office building for a hearing. The  House has no role in ratification of the CRPD, just the Senate. Members of Congress are waiting to see if a budget deal has been reached. One is needed by this Friday, December 13th. In January 2014 the Senate will have a lot of pressing matters that could easily divert its attention from the CRPD. So, the obvious question is -- what's the reason for the hold up? 

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The CRPD and Miracles

The Senate breaks on December 20th for the holidays. A lot is riding on the work of Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan, the chairs of their respective budget committees, to reach a bipartisan budget deal. If they don't, we face another potential government shutdown. While waiting to see if a shutdown can be averted, does the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have the will to hand us a gift -- passage of a resolution to ratify the CRPD? Sometimes miracles can happen.

In 1988 the House and Senate, on a bipartisan basis, drafted, then passed and secured an appropriation, for the first assistive technology legislation in one week in August. Where there is will, cooperation, compelling facts, and limitless payoffs good things can and do happen.

With the death of Nelson Mandela we have the opportunity to reflect on what he stood for and strove to achieve -- equality, opportunity, fairness, reconciliation, and empowerment. Ratification of the CRPD, or at least its passage out of the Senate Foreign Rleations Committee, would be one way to honor his legacy.

The year 2014, a new year with new priorities, will expose those of us seeking ratification of the CRPD to new, compelling competitors for Senators' attention. We need to make one more push in the next five days to see if we can pull off a miracle. We know what we need to do, so let's do it.

Thank you.
Common Grounder