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UN disability treaty fails to pass in Senate

Many people with disabilities realize the challenges that may be present when a disability is a part of everyday life. Several prominent politicians who have dealt with disabilities or disabling injuries throughout their lives recently spoke out in support of the United Nations disability rights treaty. The treaty was based upon the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Politicians including Bob Dole and John McCain supported the UN treaty. Both of these men were disabled or suffered a disabling injury during war. Even with their support and that of many other senators, adoption of the treaty failed to pass by a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate. The final vote, 61-38, was just a few votes short of being ratified. The treaty has already been ratified by 126 nations.

While a majority of senators supported the treaty, the fact that it did not pass demonstrates that there are still hurdles for disabled Americans to overcome. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act gave disabled Americans many rights and helped increase equality, but there is room for improvement.

Senator John Kerry stated, "What this treaty says is very simple. It just says that you can't discriminate against the disabled." Disabled persons may be disappointed by the treaty's failure to be ratified. Even though the treaty would reportedly not have significant impacts on Americans living in the U.S., the failure to ratify the treaty reflects current views of members of the Senate.

As this treaty was not ratified, it is possible that other legislation relating to disabilities and rights for disabled persons could also lack support. Disabled persons still need to fight for their rights at times. One way to do this is by seeking Social Security disability benefits.

Source: BBC, "US Senate rejects UN disability rights treaty," Dec. 4, 2012

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