By: W. Kirt Toombs, MMDS
I am calling on all of my brothers and sisters with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) to revitalize the discussion on the importance of ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Past efforts for ratification have fallen short and timing may be perfect for Independent Living advocates in each state to incorporate CRPD advocacy into their new 2016 – 2018 State Plan for Independent Livings (SPIL).
The complete and universal ratification of this monumental international disability human rights treaty is crucial for our movement as it provides a much needed tool to improve accountability at all levels in America and to build upon the solid structure already in place. Our laws and systems are good but not perfect.
People with disabilities in America cannot afford to be complacent with our current laws, systems and outcomes. Statistical data such as unemployment rates among our community demonstrate this. The future of the Independent Living Movement has been entrusted to us and much more needs to be done. Future generations are depending on us. The CRPD is the tool we need to evaluate our systems and provide peer based input to encourage system improvements. It is this simple! We cannot give up or let this be made into a complicated or controversial issue. We need this treaty!
The CRPD is an extraordinary tool for us to use to advocate for improvement of the systems already in place. Additionally important, we can learn from our global peers and they can learn from us. Our movement knows no boundaries and our brothers and sisters here and across the globe will benefit from our ratification of this treaty.
Recently the IL movement in Oregon has experienced rejuvenation. CILs have successfully advocated for the return to a consumer bottom up SPIL development process. We have just completed statewide listening sessions obtaining input from Oregonians with disabilities and other community members. The turnout was extraordinary and CILs will be advocating that the input serve as the foundation of our SPIL; a SPIL that will create positive system changes spanning generations.
In rural eastern Oregon we received input CILs and SILC need to be more active in advocating for the ratification of the CRPD. EOCIL’s rural base recognizes the importance and possible positive impact of the treaty and we are committed to do what we can to advocate for our Oregon SPIL to include CRPD advocacy.
I hope others will join me in advocating for adding CRPD ratification advocacy to SPILs and their CIL work plans.
W. Kirt Toombs is the founder and CEO of Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living, located in eastern Oregon.