Discussions Continue on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The U.S. Senate went into recess until after Labor Day without taking any action on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
During August, discussion about ratification of the treaty will continue — but it will take place in our own communities in Oklahoma rather than in the halls of Congress. We expect the treaty to be a topic at some of the Town Hall meetings that Senator Coburn will host this week. You can see his Town Hall meeting schedule here … He is planning for meetings with constituents in Tulsa, Vinita, Grove, Claremore, Poteau, and McAlester.
So far, we haven’t found any statements from Senator Coburn promising that he will vote for ratification. But, we think he will be supportive. Here’s why.
First, Coburn is a champion of individual freedom. We know this because he has written about his commitment to protecting liberty. This is from his website:
“Liberty and freedom for the individual… are what make the United States and our Constitution unique in the history of man. America, like no other nation before, is founded on the principle that the individual has basic rights that are granted by our Creator that no government may take away or compromise.”
Also, Senator Coburn issued a report last month that praised the work of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services for its efforts to help people with disabilities gain employment. So, we know he is a supporter of equality in the workplace — one of the major goals of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Second, Senator Coburn has a well-known reputation as a budget hawk. We think he will be pleased by another feature of the CRPD: “The treaty comes at no cost to the United States.”
Those are the words of former Senator Bob Dole, writing in the Salt Lake City Deseret News. You can read the full text of Senator Dole’s commentary here.
Mr. Dole, who has lived with a disability since World War Two, has thought deeply about the benefits of the CRPD. He points out that the treaty not only helps to protect the rights of people with disabilities. It will also expand the market for accessibility devices:
“In fact, it will create a new global market for accessibility goods. An active U.S. presence in implementation of global disability rights will promote the market for devices such as wheelchairs, smart phones and other new technologies engineered, made and sold by U.S. corporations.”
This is an angle that might appeal to Dr. Coburn, who was the manufacturing manager at the Ophthalmic Division of Coburn Optical Industries during the 1970’s. We think he knows a thing or two about the value of assistive technology.
If you get a chance to attend one of Dr. Coburn’s Town Hall meetings this month, please ask him to support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And, please report to us on the Senator’s answer.
President, OKC Chapter
United Nations Association of the USA