Robert Menendez

US Senator for New Jersey
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What is the “Disability Treaty?”

The Disability Treaty, known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or CRPD, is an international treaty that was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities.

Who does this impact?

This treaty will help the 57.8 million Americans with disabilities and 5.5 million disabled American veterans working, studying, or traveling abroad, and the 1 billion people with disabilities around the world.

Who supports ratification of the treaty?

Ratification of the treaty is supported by hundreds of disability organizations, civil rights groups, faith organizations, veterans groups, and major business groups including the Chamber of Commerce that represent millions of Americans.

What are people saying?

*Click on the colored links for full comments*

Tom Ridge, Former Secretary of
Homeland Security:
The treaty requires countries to promote accessibility for
their citizens. U.S. business recognizes
the disability treaty as an opportunity to
further the objectives of their businesses
and expand markets of technology,
mobility devices and other U.S.-made accessibly produces. Other countries
party to the treaty, like Brazil and China,
are taking advantage of the absences of
U.S. participation to lead accessible
technology and provide to this expanding marketplace. This should be the role of the United States and will be once we ratify the CRPD."

Richard Thornburgh
Former Attorney General of the United States:
The universality of rights and fundamental freedoms – as expressed in our Declaration of Independence – is the foundation on which our entire society is based. Respect for human rights is also a stated principle of our foreign policy - precisely because we recognize that stability, security and economic opportunity in any society presuppose a social order based on respect for the rights of its citizens. Given this history and these values, it would seem natural for the United States to assume a leading role – not a passive one - in the effort to recognize and enforce an international treaty of this kind.

Secretary of State John Kerry:
“The Disabilities Treaty is the single most important step we can take to ensure that millions of disabled Americans enjoy the same protections abroad as they do here. This treaty offers hope where there is none. It's about who we are and what we stand for in the world. In four simple words, the treaty says to other countries that don't respect the rights of disabled people: Be more like us. To countries that warehouse children with disabilities —
be more like us. To countries that leave children to die because they have a disability — be more like us. To countries that force children with disabilities to abandon education — be more like us...This treaty doesn't change America. It's about America changing the world.”

Bill Frist, physician, former Republican senator & Senate majority leader: “In an HIV clinic in Africa, a man born deaf holds a single sheet of paper with a plus sign. He looks for help, but no one at the clinic speaks sign language. In fact, the staff doesn’t seem interested in helping him at all. He returns to his plus sign. These are his test results. They dictate he should start antiretroviral drugs immediately and should also make changes in his sexual habits. But he doesn’t know this. He leaves the clinic concluding that the plus sign must mean he’s okay, that everything is just fine. This scenario seems shocking. Yet it continues to play out around the world. The Senate will tackle this issue at the November 5th hearings on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) — the Disabilities Treaty.”

Angela Webster, Tennessee homeschooling parent and disability rights advocate: “As a passionate supporter of homeschooling and disability rights, I was shocked that it was the homeschool community that led the charge against the Disability Treaty last year. While there are clearly some misconceptions about the treaty, not all homeschool families stand in opposition. Supporting the rights of homeschooling families and supporting the disability treaty are not mutually exclusive. After all, both groups benefit from the expansion of human and civil rights. It is my heartfelt desire that these remarkable communities can come together as they have in the past to help each other. In doing so, the rights of all can be assured.”

Patrick Murphy, retired Army captain, Iraq War veteran & former U.S. Congressman:I served in Baghdad from June 2003 to January 2004. I led convoys and saw firsthand the courage and sacrifice made by my fellow soldiers. When I returned home, I saw the same from our vets. Many of them left arms and legs on the battlefield in service to this country,
and they deserve our continued support. The Disabilities Treaty is a commonsense step that we can take to keep faith
with our disabled veterans. It will put the United States in the driver’s seat as we promote our standards for accessibility
and equality of opportunity in other countries, making it easier for our
wounded warriors and their families
to take advantage of opportunities

Dan Berschinski, Retired U.S. Army captain: “By encouraging other nations to strengthen their own accessibility laws, we can improve the lives of our 56.7 million disabled U.S. citizens, including 5.5 million disabled veterans like me, when we travel and work abroad. Many of those opposing this treaty claim to support military veterans, but a vote against ratifying this treaty undercuts that support. I am honored to join fellow veterans, Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. John Kerry and John McCain and former Sen. Robert J. Dole, to say that the case is clear-cut: Only by voting in favor of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can the Senate truly honor the sacrifice of those disabled while answering this nation’s call. I am proud to have served my country; I am proud of how my country has taken care of me. And I will be proud when we extend our leadership on disability issues beyond our borders.”

Michelle Kwan, Olympic figure skater, Special Olympics Board Member and Senior Advisor for the State Department: “Overseas travel can be
any essential part of training and competition for any serious athlete.
But I’ve learned that U.S. athletes with disabilities often face barriers when
they go abroad, including inaccessible transportation, training facilities and
living quarters. If the United States
ratifies the Disabilities Treaty, we
can help change that. Doing so will
help us persuade other nations to
raise their standards in the area of accessibility to the same high levels we have here in the United States. It will help pave the way for the U.S. athletes with disabilities to make their way to the top of the podiums around the world. It’s that simple. I can’t think of anything that makes more sense than providing my fellow athletes with disabilities the same opportunities that I’ve had in my career to reach higher, dream bigger, and live without limits.”

New York Times Editorial Board: “With the social-issue pandering of the 2012 campaign behind us, the treaty can be seen for what it is: a singular opportunity to apply the principles of
the highly effective Americans With Disabilities Act to the world at large...
It would be ludicrous if the nation
that has been in the forefront of upholding the rights of the disabled rejected a global treaty affirming those rights.”

Rev. Mark Stephenson, director of Disability Concerns, Christian Reformed Church: “As a Christian, I believe firmly that the United States needs to ratify
this important international treaty… Justice for people with disabilities
is personal for me, not only as a Christian but also as the parent of a
child who lives with severe disabilities and as the son of a woman who recently died after a 12-year journey with dementia.”

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Get Involved

Click on this link to learn more about the treaty and tell your lawmakers you support U.S. ratification.

CRPD Hearings

Chairman Menendez provides his opening statement at the hearing, expressing support for the treaty.

Senator Ayotte speaks on behalf of Former Senator Dole in support of the treaty.

Senator Kirk speaks about the need for the disability treaty.

Representative & Veteran Duckworth speaks about how veterans support the treaty.

Secretary of State Kerry talks about how impotrant it is for the Senate to ratify the treaty.

CRPD on Twitter

Photo Gallery

New Jersey leaders and Former Rutger's University football player Eric LeGrand meet and discuss how important it is for the U.S. to ratify the treaty.