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Director of USICD Visits Campus to Discuss CRPD

David MorrisseyExecutive Director of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD), visited the RTC/IL in October 2013 in conjunction with a presentation he made at the Dole Institute of Politics.

More than 100 people attended the public event.

In his talk, Morrissey explained how the USICD has spearheaded efforts to urge the U.S Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

This international agreement uses the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a model and applies many of the ADA's concepts within the treaty to build and strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide. 

In his discussion at the Dole Institute, Morrissey emphasized that the CRPD would result in no changes or expenses for the U.S., is supported by hundreds of organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities.

“When the ADA passed in 1990, the international community took notice,” Morrissey said in an interview. “This treaty is a guide star for countries to use in developing their own culturally relevant approach to promote equal rights for people with disabilities. They all interweave to a single vision.”

For example, some countries choose to emphasize employment for people with disabilities, while others may focus on accessible transportation or even the democratic process. Providing Braille ballots and allowing a personal attendant to accompany a person with a disability into the voting booth are ways that new democracies, in particular, are expanding access and rights.

Morrissey also noted that many large corporations, especially tech companies, regard the treaty as “good business.” He said these businesses want to know that countries “are speaking the same language when it comes to disability,” and they also recognize that people with disabilities represent new markets.

During his time on campus, Morrissey also attended a dinner in his honor held by AbleHawks and Allies, a student group whose mission is to raise awareness of disability issues.

The Research and Training Center on Independent Living was one of the co-sponsors of the Dole Institute program, along with the Life Span Institute, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities; Department of Special Education; Institutional Opportunity and Access; and AbleHawks and Allies.

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