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Corporate Responsibility in Action

What is the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities?

Created: 11 Nov 2013
Deb Dagit's picture
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Based upon the principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity, which are at the core of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the CRPD seeks "to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities." The CRPD would not require any new costs or changes to existing law in order for the U.S. to comply with its provisions.

President George W. Bush's administration negotiated the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), an international treaty that calls for ADA-like protection for people around the world. President Obama signed the treaty in 2009.  Since then, disability advocates have encouraged Congress to ratify CRPD, a required step in the process of the U.S. being considered a supporter.

One hundred and thirty-eight countries have now ratified the treaty. Unfortunately, the United States is not among them.

U.S Ratification of the CRPD Has Strong Business and Bipartisan Support

Business groups that have spoken out in favor of ratification include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Assistive Technology Industry Association of America (ATIA), the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN®). Symantec is a signatory to a letter from the business community encouraging the U.S. Congress to ratify the CRPD on November 21, when it is scheduled for a vote in the House.

The CRPD will provide U.S. companies operating abroad with competitive advantages in advancing equal access and opportunities for local employees by:

  • Increasing international employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for persons with disabilities
  • Promoting international technology accessibility standards and guidelines in the workplace
  • Promoting good practices overseas and adopting the spirit of America's disability rights laws like the ADA
  • Exercising local leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility and good citizenship

My Perspective

As a diversity leader, person who uses a wheelchair, and someone who travels frequently around the world for business and pleasure, I was embarrassed and angry when the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the CRPD almost a year ago.  It is my hope that with the encouragement of business leaders like Symantec, this will not happen again. It’s impossible to explain to people in other countries why the U.S. does not support CRPD since it does not require our nation to do anything that we’re not already doing. Not to mention that we’re known to be global leaders in disability inclusion. 

Despite the numerous challenges my husband and I experience  when we travel within the U.S. such as airlines mangling my wheelchair, unsafe curb cuts, and inappropriate questions about our service dog, we are blessed to live in the United States of America. The challenges we face at home are minor irritants compared to the trauma and drama of traveling to most other countries.  I no longer even attempt to travel without my husband’s help and advocacy as it is not worth the risk of being injured, stranded, or bullied.

If you are not inspired yet to write a letter to your Senator encouraging them to support ratification of the CRPD, consider the words of a decorated veteran and Congresswoman, the Honorable Tammy Duckworth:

“When veterans travel abroad, we are often jolted by leaving a country that does everything in its power to support our Wounded Warriors. We often travel to places that have no idea how to accommodate someone with an artificial limb, guide stick, or wheelchair. We Wounded Warriors have done our job serving our country. Many of us sacrificed a great deal in doing so. We did this because we believe in our nation. We believe our country should lead - that the world is a better place when the U.S. steps up to take leadership. And when it comes to improving opportunities for disabled Americans who want to travel and work abroad, Veterans believe we should have a seat at the head of the table.”

As the global leader in cybersecurity, Symantec is committed to making the online world a safer and more accessible place for all people. I applaud Symantec for their support of ratification of the CRPD.


Deb Dagit has served as a Chief Diversity Officer for Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, and Merck Pharmaceuticals between 1991 and 2012. In 2013, she transitioned to start a diversity and inclusion consulting practice focused on practical business solutions for helping companies better reflect their marketplace and engage their employees. Deb Dagit Diversity, LLC is a certified disability-owned business enterprise by the US Business Leadership Network.