Human Rights for US Disabled?

While the US has historically led in disability rights, critical barriers remain.

Human rights for US disabled
The struggle for disability rights has been one spanning decades in the United States, and it is ongoing (GALLO/GETTY)
More than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s total population, live with some form of disability.

Often referred to as “the world’s largest minority”, persons with disabilities are accustomed to facing barriers to their participating in almost every aspect of society.

“In the case of disability, we’ve had to spend all our time and energy determining who is a member of the club, rather than if they are being discriminated against,” Joelle Brouner, Executive Director of the Washington State Rehabilitation Council told Al Jazeera.

Brouner, who experiences a major physical disability herself, works to see that a greater number of people with disabilities enter the workforce and progress in their careers.

But, like so many people with disabilities, sometimes just getting to work can pose as great a challenge. Smiling, she asked: “How do I figure out how to build a life when I have to figure out how to ride a bus?

“In 2004, I went to New York City and there were very few wheelchair accessible cabs, and I couldn’t use the subway. ‘We don’t want more of you in the world’ is the message some of this sends to people with disabilities.”

And that message can be quite prominent, such as when the US government failed to approve ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on December 4.

On that day, “it [was] individuals with disabilities in the United States, including American veterans, as well as people with disabilities living in poverty and oppression abroad who look to the leadership of the United States, who truly lost”, said Curtis Decker, the executive director of the National Disability Rights Network.

Read the full article at Al Jazeera English.