NAD Advocates for Our Rights On the Anniversary of the ADA
During the week of July 23 – 27, 2012, several representatives from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) attended different events on and around Capitol Hill.
On July 26, 2012, the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many events related to the anniversary of the ADA took place in Washington, DC, as well as throughout the country. Representatives from the NAD attended three prestigious events on that day in the U.S. Capitol.
The White House invited three representatives from the NAD to their annual event celebrating the anniversary of the ADA in the early morning of July 26th. Attending on behalf of the NAD were Vice President Melissa Draganac-Hawk, Secretary Kirsten Poston, and staff attorney Debra Patkin. Through their participation, the NAD reaffirmed the need to advocate for the civil rights of deaf and hard of hearing people, as well as for individuals with disabilities.
During the White House event, Senator Tom Harkin (D - Iowa) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hosted a separate Disability Employment meeting in the Senate Russell Building to discuss strategies to improve the dismal employment rate for deaf and hard of hearing people and people with disabilities. Senator Harkin, along with Senator Mike Enzi (R - Wyoming), convened the meeting with remarks from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Governor of Delaware Jack A. Markell, currently the Chair of the National Governors Association (and who has made disability employment an issue of paramount importance during his term), Senator Kay Hagan (D - North Carolina), Congress Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (D - Washington), and Deputy Assistant to the President Michael Strautmanis. Senator Harkin invited NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum to provide remarks on the status of employment for deaf and hard of hearing Americans across the nation. The NAD, in turn, thanks Senator Harkin (who has a deaf brother) for his unwavering support of deaf and hard of hearing people, and appreciates his invitation to participate in this much-needed dialogue, with the goal of creating innovative solutions to the vexing problem of unemployment for so many people with disabilities.
Upon the conclusion of the White House event celebration of the ADA anniversary, Vice President Melissa Draganac-Hawk and Secretary Kirsten Poston attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting at the Dirksen building of the Senate. The Committee debated, and eventually voted to send the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) to the full Senate for a vote for ratification of the CRPD. Also in attendance was NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum, after completing his obligations at the Disability Employment meeting. The progress of the CRPD to the Senate floor was a long time coming- Rosenblum was also present during an earlier Foreign Relations Committee panel discussion on July 12, 2012, and since 2009, has been involved with other deaf advocates, NAD representatives, and the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) to push for the ratification of the CRPD. In April and May 2012, the NAD Civil Rights Subcommittee of the Public Policy Committee released a position statement in support of the CRPD. The CRPD recognizes the civil, human and linguistic rights of all deaf and hard of hearing people and people with disabilities, and the language of the CRPD specifically recognizes sign language and Deaf culture.
The NAD is pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 13-6 to send the CRPD to the full Senate for a vote on ratification. It is important for all of us to work together and contact all our Senators to ask for their support in ratifying the CRPD.
In order to ratify the CRPD, we need 67 Senators to vote in favor of the CRPD! Here’s how you can help us get 67 Senators to support the CRPD!
The week was a busy one for the NAD, and on the 22nd anniversary of the ADA, we advocated for:
increased enforcement of our civil rights,
better solutions for increasing our employment opportunities,
and ratification of an international treaty that recognizes our language and culture!