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Removing barriers to the disabled

As the mother of two children who were born with a genetic mutation that has left them legally blind, I believe this nation has already benefited from the human rights treaty, which, as Dana Milbank wrote [“Santorum’s disabled argument,” Nov. 27] “forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like” and “has been ratified by 126 nations, including China.”

In 2011, our son, Nathan, a straight-A student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, was chosen by the State Department to be part of a group of student ambassadors who would spend six weeks in China learning Chinese.

While the other students who were chosen were notified of their city, housing and school assignments weeks in advance, we waited on pins and needles as we heard things such as, “Well, in China kids with visual impairments usually attend, ‘special,’ schools,” and “They have never done anything like this before.”

Finally, only days before the students’ departure date, and only after assistance from various disability-rights advocates did we learn that Nathan would, in fact, be going. It was a fantastic experience for all involved, and it might never have happened if it were not for such treaties as the one opposed by Rick Santorum.

My son was a pioneer in China, where he successfully disproved antiquated notions of what people with disabilities are capable of accomplishing.

Marie Liu, Bethesda

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