Monday, May 05, 2008

A New Era for PWD

As I mentioned on Saturday, an international treaty for disabled people took effect on that day. Thus culminated the efforts of hundreds of people who dedicated lots of time and energy to creating the accord and the beginning of a new hope for disabled individuals around the world.

I had the good fortune of attending several of the conferences of the ad hoc committee which worked diligently and (for the most part) in good faith to create the treaty. The sessions were marathon events taking two weeks at a time roughly twice a year and convened government representatives along with members of numerous NGOs. My role was mostly an observational one; showing up to workshops, gathering notes, and talking to different people. It was a refreshing look at how group efforts can (usually) work and it provided me some valuable insight into the inner working of the U.N. bureaucracy.

Next Monday there will be a special ceremony commemorating the entry into force of the treaty for disabled people. I may see some familiar faces during the event, though to be perfectly frank with you that isn’t my primary concern. My main issue is that the pact can lead to significant strides for the disabled, especially in underdeveloped nations.

Disabled people receive the stigma of being complainers who are wholly uncomfortable with the world and whine solely for our benefit. That may be the case for a small amount but I’ve found that what we, the disabled, really want is the opportunity to perform to the best of our ability. It may involve asking for some help but in the end we are empowered and given the chance to reach our goals.

I suppose the best and most succinct way to say it is by using the title of a book written by the late (and missed) Henry Viscardi, Jr. – Give Us the Tools

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