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I've Been Thinking

March 22, 2013  |  Randy Cooper

I've been thinking about The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)   and considering the impact it has on the lives of people with disabilities.  Then I thought about how the CRPD might impact me personally and professionally. 

I distinctly recall being a young boy sitting in a grade school classroom, located in rural Western Kansas with a town population of about 400 and a class size of probably no more than 20 students.  In many ways, the world was much smaller.  However, we as a nation were thinking much larger. 

Our national leaders were implementing the Individual's with disabilities Education Act  (IDEA)  to ensure special education services for children with disabilities.  At the time, I was a kid with low vision trying to keep up academically and struggling to be accepted as an equal by my peers.  Without the IDEA, I wouldn't have had access to an excellent public education.   Nor, without the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that passed years later, I wouldn't have had an equal opportunity to compete for employment.  Without these laws, today I probably wouldn't be living independently and self-sufficiently.  I certainly wouldn't be living in Washington, DC and honestly believe that I wouldn't have been able to take advantage of the many career opportunities.

Each of us can look back and tell a very personal story or a story about a friend or neighbor with a disability and passionately give a powerful testimony on how the ADA enhanced our lives.  We can be proud that our nation's disability rights laws protect us and ensure opportunity. 

So, it's not surprising to me that the wisdom of our leaders and our beliefs as Americans would serve as the inspiration for the CRPD.  The treaty extends the principles and values found in the ADA to the global community.  Personally, I believe the CRPD will provide me and other people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the increasingly global community.  I will be free to travel worldwide, buy accessible technology, and even enroll in a graduate studies program if I so choose.  I'd simply do the things that all of us in the world with a disability would like to do.

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