Considering the performance of Congress in recent years, it is almost impossible to believe that things could get worse [“Treaty on disability rights fails in Senate,” news story, Dec. 5]. But last week’s Senate vote against ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities marks an all-time low.
This treaty had the bipartisan support of leaders such as Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and was based on the Americans With Disabilities Act and signed by 155 nations. It would do nothing more than ensure that disabled individuals around the world would enjoy the same rights and freedoms as people do here. Yet, led by people such as former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who spread half-truths about threats to “American sovereignty,” 38 senators blocked the approval of this treaty.
How those senators could look individuals who are disabled, whether by war, birth or accident, in the eye and justify their position is a mystery.
Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, referred to the “better angels of our nature.” They were certainly missed last week in the Senate.
Bill Stoeckert, East Orleans, Mass.
Regarding Dan Berschinski’s Dec. 4 op-ed, “Leading on disability beyond our borders”:
After a wonderful trip through Italy in October, I came back so thankful for U.S. disability regulations. Although I have only an injured knee and not the level of disabilities of Mr. Berschinski, the trip was harder than necessary. I totally support what he wrote on the need for worldwide accessibility. It will create needed jobs and make easier and safer not only travel but also life for those disabled, young or aging in foreign countries.
Rozanne Weissman, Washington
Dec. 4 was a sad day for those who have toiled for years to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. When I served on the National Council on the Handicapped, I was on the team that drafted the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The Senate rejection of the U.N. treaty spoke volumes about the loss of coordination among federal, state and community efforts to meet the needs of people with disabilities; the loss of leadership in continuing this cause; and the absence of leadership at the federal level to make sure that, when a favorable proposal regarding disability is brought before the president and Congress, there is an assurance of support.
The Senate vote is a wake-up call. Even with the support of Sens. John McCain and John F. Kerry and the visit to the Senate floor by former senator Bob Dole, the measure failed. How did that happen? Where were President Obama’s representatives for people with disabilities? Where were the advocates?
The defeat of the measure is a tragedy, but the perception that disability is no longer a priority for this nation is devastating.
Michael Marge, Millersville