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Letter urging the Senate to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

April 02, 2008

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, I urge you to support ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As of this writing, 18 nations have ratified the treaty; 20 must ratify for it to take effect.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in December 2006 and opened for signature in March 2007,reaffirms “the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the need for persons with disabilities to be guaranteed their full enjoyment without discrimination.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14 percent of our nation’s civilian population over age 5 has at least one disability. Those 37.5 million Americans include 8 percent of boys and 4 percent of girls ages 5 to 15; 12 percent of men and 11 percent of women ages 16 to 64; and 42 percent of women and 35 percent of men age 65 or older.

President George W. Bush’s words at the 15th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to the U.N. treaty as well. As the President said, “This historic legislation provides a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities … [that] reflects our nation’s faith in the promise of all individuals and helps to ensure that our nation’s opportunities are more accessible to all … to give all people the opportunity to live with dignity, work productively, and achieve their dreams.”

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities prohibits what is already U.S. law: discrimination against people with disabilities. I urge you to support ratification of this treaty and reaffirmation of the principle of equality of opportunity fundamental to the rule of law, the bedrock upon which this great nation of ours was founded.

Sincerely,

Reg Weaver
President