An overwhelming show of support for global accessibility was unmistakable, as Senate Building room 106 filled with disabilities rights advocates on June 5, 2013. Attendees gathered for the Enabling briefing and panel discussion for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Panel members included Francis West of IBM, Judy Weber of World Wide Web Consortium, Andrew Kirkpatrick of Adobe Systems, Brian Markwalter of Consumer Electronics Association, and David Dikter of Assistive Technology Industry Association. Moderated by former U.S. Congressman Tony Coelho, the panel identified several benefits of World Wide Accessibility, a global application of principles founded in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Benefits of CRPD identified included financial gains, creation of jobs, and engineering of innovative technology. Frances West, IBM, Director, Worldwide Human Ability & Accessibility Center, described the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the IBM workforce as early as 1914.
Discussion of solutions based innovations born from inclusion led to the reminder that the US has been viewed as the premier leader in Assistive Technology and accessibility for persons with disabilities. The panel cautioned that failure to ratify the CRPD may impact our global reputation as leaders and diminish a substantial potential for economic growth. The result of the discussion clearly established the need for U.S. ratification of CRPD. Only a few senate votes short of ratification last year, CEC will continue to advocate for U.S. ratification of the CRPD. Urge your Senator to vote!