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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Twin Atttacks on Disability Rights - National & International

It seems that during the last week or so, the hard-won dignity and enabling laws, both national and international, are under attack by Industry and conservative-backed lobbying interests seeking to unravel the political gains achieved by the disability community. The battle is being fought in The storied chambers and the weapons used are legislative statutes and proposed amendments that weaken or nullify existing laws through exceptions. For example, the American Hotel Association, an industry organization, stridently opposed the public accommodation requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, enforced by the US Department of Justice mandating that permanent modifications to existing pools or pools under construction be modified to facilitate easy access for patrons with disabilities, claiming a myriad of excused including that the presence of swimmers with disabilities are "unsanitary", among other flimsy excuses for noncompliance. This at at time when hotel visitors are climbing to record numbers! The problem is if such an exemption is codified, it might create a domino effect in which other provisions in the ADA would be nullified or compromised. The Disability community CAN NOT afford that risk.

A second issue being considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is whether to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, an Obama-backed measure. The CRPD, which embodies the basic rights and dignity of persons with disabilities worldwide, has been embraced by almost every member of the United Nations General Assembly with the US as one of the few that has not ratified it. The action is being opposed by right-wing lobbying groups such as the Home School Legal Defense Association which is against mandated intrusion into the family unit, a libertarian perspective. The irony is that the CRDP was developed on the ADA framework and actually expands on it with additional mandates.