The New UN Disability Rights Convention: Building Support in the United States for Ratification and Implementation

Reception: From the ADA to the UN Disability Rights Convention

Captioner: Natalie C. Ennis, CSR-CA, RPR / CI and CT


ERIC ROSENTHAL: Thank you, John, and to all of the other organizations and people who came together today. We have everybody in the room. I hope that the connections we're forming today, we do not lose the excitement and energy that we have here. Let's keep it moving forward.

To American University, Washington College of Law, as I said earlier, I got my start here 14 years ago. I owe it all to them. I just appreciate everything that they have done. Erin, who is holding the microphone there.

(Applause.)

A lot of people did a lot of great things. Where is Amir? He's over there. Right there. We've scared him. I talked to him in the beginning about making this accessible in all these different forms and you've just done a fabulous job, Amir. I really appreciate it.

So we will indeed be having is a reception afterwards, but Yoshiko Dart had generously offered to say a few words. If you might say a word before we make the transition, because I think that the interpreting will be a lot more easy that way. So if you could come to the front. Yoshiko Dart is an impossible person to introduce because I think she's the spirit of the disability rights movement. Whenever you're down, just seeing her face at a meeting is enough to turn you around. I think all of us just feel such incredible debt to her and the smile that she gives at just the right moment. We really appreciate it.

Sitting down or standing up, whatever you prefer. Then after that, we'll all go over to the reception. Thank you. If you would stand up, that would help with the people on the web.

YOSHIKO DART: I asked one of my family members to come with me. I brought Justin. Judy, we love you.

Beloved colleagues, I love you. Justin loved you and will continue to love you. Thank you for your excellent conference today, all of you. I just won't mention all of the names. Thank you also for your dedication to justice every day.

Following the passage of the ADA, Justin wrote, in part, the quote, the declaration of July 4, 1776, gave eloquent voice to the American dream that all men are created equal. The representatives first yawned, then laughed at what they saw as an outrageous combination of shameless demagogy and childish immaturity. But we took it seriously. We began the long effort to make it live.

Our spectacular partial successes have increased. On July 26, 1990, the dream lived again with a power that could have been achieved in no other way. The message of the ADA went forth through TV and print to every American community and most foreign nations.

People with disabilities have the same inalienable rights as other people to participate in the mainstream of society. The world would never be the same. Mr. Jefferson and Reverend King must have been smiling.

Justin later made a plan to go global, promoting the rights and the empowerment of persons with disabilities. Indeed, he did make several visits to foreign countries, but upon returning from our trip to the U.K. and Ireland, an unexpected heart attack prevented him from traveling any longer. It's been five years since his passing. So before I die, I would like to see with my own eyes the ratification of the U.N. Convention and at the beginning phase of its implementation become a reality. I firmly believe the USA can and should continue being an international leader in the field of disability and human rights. With all of your determined leadership, we will. Because I believe in each and every one of you here in this room. To our colleagues throughout the USA and the world, I love you. People power. We power. Power of solidarity. Let us lead on together, no matter what. Together - but only together - we shall overcome. Thank you.

(Applause.)