UN Signs Treaty to Benefit People with Disabilities Worldwide
by John Williams
NY, NY - Opportunities for people with disabilities and for assistive
technology manufacturers were recently provided an impetus to improve
Last month at the United Nations' headquarters during a Convention on the
Rights of Personas with Disabilities, 86 member states and the European
Community signed a treaty to improve the lives of the world's estimated 650
million people with disabilities.
The Convention outlaws discrimination against persona with disabilities in
all areas of life, including employment, education, health services,
transportation and access to justice.
Forty-five countries signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which
will give individuals recourse to an expert committee on the rights of
persons with disabilities when all national options have been exhausted.
For assistive technology manufacturers hungering to expand their markets,
the treaty calls for member to provide accessible information to persona
with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies,
including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support
services and facilities.
The treaty defines "reasonable accommodations" as necessary and appropriate
modification and adjustments, not imposing a significant undue burden, where
needed in a particular case, to ensure persona with disabilities the
enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and
It also defines "universal design" as the design of products, environments
and services to be useable by all people, to the greatest extent possible,
without the need for adaptation or specialized design. It further states
that "universal design" shall not exclude assistive devices for particular
groups of persona with disabilities where this is needed.
The treaty requires that public spaces and buildings be accessible to
persona with disabilities, and calls for improvements to information and
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told a press briefing in
New York that the drive and commitment of the disability community was the
greatest impetus behind the treaty's content and relatively rapid adoption.
Yannis Vardakastanis of the International Disability Caucus called the
Convention "a very drastic paradigm shift in the way the international
community looks at disability."
He said the pact should bring real changes in the daily lives of people
living with disabilities, helping to take away the discrimination, exclusion
and obstacles they routinely face.
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told a ceremony at UN Headquarters
in New York that "in three short years, the Convention went from dream to
reality" to become the first human rights treaty of the century.
She added that fewer than 50 nations currently have specific legislation
protecting people with disabilities. "I know we can do better," she said.
Addressing the same gathering, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya
Rashed Al Khalifa described the adoption of the Convention as "a historic
event not only for person with disabilities, but also for the promotion of
the human rights agenda at the Untied Nations."
UN Deputy Secretay-General Asha-Rose Migiro said when he delivered his
remarks opening the signature portion of the convention.
"of course, ratification has to be followed by vigorous implementation and
oversight at the national and local levels. Only then will the real benefits
of this legislation be felt by millions of persons with disabilities through
the world. Only then will our own high expectations prove truly justified."
The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly last December. The treaty
marks a sea of change in t the perception of persona with disabilities, with
an emphasis on empowering people to play a greater role in decisions that
The Convention dies not call on budget-strapped governments to pay for
things they cannot afford. But it sets out minimum measures to respect basic
human dignity, as well as longer-term goals to achieve full integration.
Twenty countries must ratify the Convention before it enters into force, and
United Nations officials believe that number can be reached during 2007.
For information visit www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable and
www.un.org/disabilities/convention; or contact Edoardo Bellando, tel. 212
963 8275, e-mail: [log in to unmask], or Daniel Shepard, tel. 212 963 9495,
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
The next generation of Hotmail is here! http://www.newhotmail.co.uk/
________________End of message______________________
This Disability-Research Discussion list is managed by the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds (www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies). Enquiries about the list administratione should be sent to [log in to unmask]
Archives and tools are located at:
You can JOIN or LEAVE the list from this web page.