Friday, October 17, 2014

A Personal Point of Privilege

This morning I was elected president of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities. Here are my acceptance remarks...

Thank you for this honor. I know I have assumed a great and important responsibility. I would like to make three points.

First, I think a leader should be practical, realistic, and a problem solver. I am those things.

Second, goals are important. I looking forward to building upon USICD past and current  efforts. Long term financial stability, expanded partnerships with young people, organizations, and government, and sustained visibility for USICD in all disability rights campaigns and initiatives are the goals in which I have a special interest.

Third, in my experience, the things that lead to success are a willingness to lay the ground work, use effective communication strategies, and invest in consensus building.

Thank you for this special opportunity.

I hope you will join USICD if you are not a member and consider attending USICD's gala in December. For details visit

Pat Morrissey

Monday, October 13, 2014

CRPD: A Critical Time to Weigh In

Every poll I look at shows that in races for the Senate, the differences between candidates is often only two or three points in tightly contested states. So if you live in places such as Louisiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, South Dakota, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, Kentucky, and perhaps other states you have more leverage than you'll ever have at any other time to get the attention of those running for the Senate.

In states where there are two newcomers running for the Senate you have the opportunity to get their support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) if it were to come up for a vote in the new Congress that begins in January 2015.

In states where a Democrat is running for reelection you have the opportunity to ask that Senator to request that Majority Leader Harry Reid schedule a vote on the CRPD in November or December 2014.

In a state where a Republican is running for reelection you have the opportunity to ask that Senator to support ratification of the CRPD.

In a state where a Senator is retiring in January 2015 you have the opportunity to ask that Senator to consider his or her legacy, his or her commitment to human rights, and the standing of the United States within the world community.

Each person running for the Senate wants your vote on November 4, 2014. PAC money is in play now. Political ads are running non-stop. But the bottom line is voter turn out. If you tell a candidate that you intend to vote, as do your family and friends, and that where the candidate stands on the CRPD matters to you and those you know, it will have an impact.

Ratification of the CRPD will cost nothing, but it will strengthen U.S. credibility as a leader on disability rights. It requires no changes in existing laws or the passage of new ones. It will give the U.S. the right to engage other countries, which have ratified the CRPD, in developing and shaping accessibility standards. It will not alter the balance of power between the federal and state governments. It will not affect parents' right to home school their children because that right is controlled by state not federal law.

Please take the time to talk to candidates for Senate as well as Senators who are not up for election. By reaching out to them you can affect how the U.S. responds to a treaty that is going to change the social landscape around the world for the better with or without us. If the U.S. is a player this change will happen more quickly, more smartly. And in return, the U.S. will learn from other nations how to more effectively, more efficiently build inclusive societies in rural and remote areas in America.

Thank you.
Common Grounder