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Last year, the U.S. rejected the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) treaty. The United States Senate this month had its first meeting to revisit the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was brought into discussion by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Last Thursday on November 21, at 9:30 a.m. EST, the Senate had the second meeting of the convention.

At the first meeting, Senator Robert Menendez stated that 135 countries around he world have already signed the treaty. “Ratifying this treaty will help the United States lead in the effort to give every disabled person the opportunity to live, work, learn, and travel without undue barriers,” he said at the 23:57 time stamp on the meeting’s video.

It’s difficult to know what direction the Senate will take with this treaty. About two weeks ago, Menendez and Senator John McCain wrote a column in USA Today in support of the treaty. Senator John Kerry has also shown his support.

But some politicians such as Senator Rick Santorum think differently. “CRPD threatens U.S. sovereignty and parental rights, and if ratified, it would effectively put us under international law when it comes to parenting our special needs children,”he said in an email to Patriot Voices.

See the objections to the treaty here:

So ratifying this treaty (the full version of which you can find here) may be more of a struggle than it seems. But what will it mean for the rights of the disabled—in particular, the 40 million Americans who are hearing impaired? While there are mainly no concrete steps suggested in the treaty—it is mainly focused on ideals, we can agree that most people from the hearing impaired community would be on board with them—accessibility, affordable health care, and ability to participate in cultural life, recreation, leisure, and sport, just to name a few.

Here’s what the treaty specifically says about the hearing impaired:

  1. “State parties shall take appropriate measures, including facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community; ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf, or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximizes academic and social development.”
  2. “Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with other, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.”

Read the treaty more at length here. Tune in here to see the video of last Thursday’s meeting.

by Andrea Garcia Vargas