Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Blogswarm on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

One year ago today, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was opened for signatures. It had been adopted by the U.N. in December, 2006, and on March 30, 2007.

"There were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and 1 ratification of the Convention. This is the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organizations."

The goal of the convention is a simple one - recognize persons with disabilities as people - people with rights. You can find the complete document and also answers to frequently asked questions about the convention are answered are answered at the U.N.'s Enable site. To date, 17 countries have ratified this important human rights convention.

I hope you'll head over to Ratify Now for a blogswarm. What's Ratify Now? If you read the first comment below, Andrea explains that it is an organization with worldwide membership focused on the ratification of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. What's a blogswarm? Head over and you won't be disappointed. You'll find information about the convention and the thoughts and perspectives on this historic convention of writers from around the world.

And the United States? We have not ratified the convention.

Check out the blogswarm!

April 2 - Edited to clarify Ratify Now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Carnival time!

The 34th Disability Blog Carnival is up over at Andrea's Buzzing About. The theme is "Breaking Out." Lots of great links. I hope you'll check them out!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Governor-designate Paterson

From the New York Times: 'David A. Paterson in his first news conference as governor-designate on Thursday, a day of busily preparing for the transition'

On Monday, March 17, 2008, David Paterson will be sworn in as governor of New York. He will be the first legally blind governor in U.S. history.

Fifty-three year old Mr. Paterson has been blind since childhood when he had an infection in his eyes. In a New York Times article, Mr. Paterson says, "I don't act the way I did when I was 17, like I can do everything myself, because I realized the minute I do that, no one helps me. So I learned to be a little more pragmatic about life." Mr. Paterson receives his briefings via lengthy voice mail messages from his staff, and so that he doesn't need to use notes, he memorizes all his speeches. He also says that he has felt more discrimination from his blindness than from his race.

Steve Kuusisto shares his thoughts on Paterson's governship in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times.
"New Yorkers will no doubt discover that Mr. Paterson will take great interest in the details of governance and that this will require him to take sincere interest in people. He'll ask more questions than your average politician. And those who work in his administration will find that they are important not simply for knowing things but because they can describe how they learned those things in the first place. That's perhaps the most important thing for the public to understand about professionals who are blind -- we are by nature tireless in acquiring information, and we remember virtually every detail of what we read or hear."

For further interesting information - Penny Richards offers a comprehensive list of blind elected officials through history over at Disability Studies.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Carnival Day!

Head on over to Wheelie Catholic for the 33rd Disability Blog Carnival, "Appreciating Allies." As usual, lots of posts from lots of perspectives. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Helen Keller photo discovered

photo of 8 year old Helen Keller, holding a doll and sitting next to her teacher Anne Sullivan
Last week, the New England Historic Genealogical Society released this wonderful photograph of a young Helen Keller vacationing in Massachusetts in July, 1888. She is sitting outside on a chair and holding a doll. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan is next to her. Interestingly, "doll" was Helen's first signed word, in March of 1887. You can read the full story here - it covers some details about Helen's life and also the story behind the photograph.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Bang Long - gentle, tough, inclusive

Bang Long and I at the CCDI Conference May, 2007

Bang Long, Jr. died last Friday. Mr. Long was a tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. According to his obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, he was born in 1943. He had a long history of being an advocate for humanity. He had worked as a nurse’s aide in Memphis, helping people cope with tear gas during a riot that occurred while Martin Luther King Jr was in town. He was present for the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and was very active in disability rights in the state of Illinois.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bang Long at last year's Coalition Of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) Conference. He presented me with the Markeeta Award, an annual Illinois award given to a young disability advocate. Mr. Long welcomed me to my first conference and was encouraging and kind. Many years ago, he had worked with Markeeta Vincer and her family in her pursuit for inclusion in the Chicago public schools.

Cilla at My Big Noise shares her recollections of Bang Long. They had been friends for 20 years, and she recounts his asking her to dance, and his varied activism experiences.

I only met Bang Long that one time, but he left an impression on me. He was gentle, tough, inclusive, and welcoming. I am thankful that Mr. Long requested that we take the above picture.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Long. A lesson I learn from him is that advocacy for our fellow humans is a lifelong endeavor, and comes in many different forms - disability advocacy is just one form. As fellow humans, we each other’s allies and supporters.

Rest in peace, Bang Long, Jr. Thank you.
Edited to add 2 more reflections on Bang Long: Karen Putz (aka Deaf Mom) and Valerie Brew-Parrish