STATEMENT FROM RESNA PRESIDENT ALEX MIHAILIDIS
ON THE U.S. SENATE’S FAILURE TO RATIFY THE CRPD TREATY
(Arlington, VA) – “RESNA expresses its profound disappointment in the failure of the United States Senate to pass the resolution for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In over two decades since the Americans with Disabilities Act, progress has been made in advancing access and inclusion for people with disabilities, especially in the area of assistive technology. Although much work remains to be done, the United States has set an example for other nations to follow. The failure of the Convention in the Senate undermines these efforts. As a result, the US will be unable to join its partners around the world to promote equal access and inclusion for people with disabilities.
As a North American organization, most of our members are from the US and Canada. However, many of our members are involved with international activities that assist people with disabilities in accessing and using the technology to participate in their local communities. RESNA members are involved with the development of international standards that ensure the safety and efficacy of technology for people with disabilities, as well as practical wheelchair development projects in Central America, Thailand, and Georgia; local capacity for customized seating for children with disabilities in South America; and appropriate technology for landmine survivors.
Opening world markets to US technology for people with disabilities is a win-win situation. For example, a wheelchair project led by a RESNA member who is a MacArthur Fellow has finally solved the problem that wheelchairs have with their front casters in rough terrain, by adapting street vendor cart wheels they discovered in Zimbabwe. When these US-led international designs reach the US market, it will benefit wheelchair riders in the US.
RESNA thanks those senators who voted in favor of the resolution, and it expresses deep regret at those senators who were not willing to take a stand on behalf of all people with disabilities. Many of the senators who rejected the Convention understand and support the use of appropriate technology by American citizens with disabilities, but perhaps they did not see the connection to daily functioning for other citizens of the world. We hope the Senate will again consider the Convention in the near future, and we urge its passage when it does. RESNA will be pleased to share data and stories about appropriate technology’s impact for citizens internationally.”
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RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America, is the premier professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.