December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities --RSS Feed

By Brian Peters, Community Access and Policy Specialist
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day that has been observed around the world on December 3 since 1992. Organized by the United Nations, this year’s celebration also coincides with the release of the first-ever report on disability and development. The United Nations recognizes that people with disabilities still face numerous barriers to inclusion in societies around the world. People with disabilities are often some of the poorest because they are excluded from the opportunities that others have. Toward that end, the United Nations is encouraging countries to empower people with disabilities and to plan cities to be inclusive (a majority of people around the globe live in cities now).
Moving from a world in which people with disabilities face many barriers to one in which people with disabilities have equal access within their communities is why the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed and ratified by nearly all of the countries in the world. Countries recognized the need to be inclusive of people with disabilities. President George W. Bush signed the CRPD on behalf of the United States, but it has not been ratified by the Senate. The United States, through the National Council on Disability, was very much involved with the creation of the CRPD, so it is very disappointing that the United States is not fully on board. The CRPD failed in the Senate in 2012 with a close vote. Even though most senators supported it, a two-thirds majority was needed for a treaty, and it failed by five votes. It has never come to a full Senate vote since then. 175 countries have ratified the CRPD—the United States is one of 26 countries that have not ratified it.
One issue related to people with disabilities that has not gotten much attention in the media is the fact that people with disabilities face additional barriers should they want to move to another country. Canada recently made a change to reduce these barriers. In spring, Canada changed its immigration policies to stop repeatedly rejecting people on the basis of “medical inadmissibility” that might place “excessive demand” on the health and social service programs. Canada didn’t completely remove that limit, though—it still will reject people that it believes would cost more than $20,000 a year in medical costs, up from the previous limit of $6,655 a year. The United States seems to be headed the opposite way, attempting to make policies more restrictive. Canada and the United States aren’t the only countries that seek to restrict immigration by people with disabilities over fears they’d be a “burden on the system.” I believe that people with disabilities should be able to emigrate to other countries facing only the same barriers that others face. 
For more information about some of the different issues that people with disabilities face around the world and the work that is being done to remove barriers to inclusion, visit the UN Enable website.

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