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DISABILITY-RESEARCH  June 2007

DISABILITY-RESEARCH June 2007

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Subject:

UN Signs Treaty to Benefit People with Disabilities Worldwide

From:

Colin REvell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Colin REvell <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 5 Jun 2007 15:07:16 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

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 
worldwide.

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 
fundamental freedoms.

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 
communications infrastructure.


World Opinion


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 
affect them.

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]

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