The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international treaty that was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities. The CRPD is a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the works that embraces the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. The U.S. signed the CRPD in 2009; the Senate is expected to consider ratification in the 113th Congress.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement on September 17, 2014 following the objection of a Republican Senator to proceed to a vote and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) – a treaty that builds upon the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to create a framework for disability rights laws in other countries. Harkin is the Senate author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has led the fight in the Senate to ratify the CRPD. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

“Since the passage of the ADA, the doors of opportunity have been opened to millions of Americans with disabilities. For the U.S. to live up to its role as a global leader on disability rights, we must extend the promise of equal access across the globe and bring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to a vote by the full Senate as soon as possible. More than three-quarters of the countries in the world today have ratified this treaty.

“Today is another sad and irresponsible day in the U.S. Senate, and it is terribly disappointing to me, and to disability advocates around the country. The arguments made against ratifying the CRPD are misinformed and damaging, and a minority of Senators have blocked important progress on human rights based on fictitious rationale. This treaty would reaffirm America’s rightful place as the world leader in rights for people with disabilities. In an increasingly global economy, U.S. citizens with disabilities, including our veterans, too often face barriers when they travel, conduct business, study, or live overseas. Approving this measure would help to break down those barriers.

“I may be retiring from the Senate, but I’m not retiring from this fight. I will never retire from the fight for justice and equality for people with disabilities here and around the world.”

An American delegation under President George W. Bush negotiated and approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. The United States signed the treaty in 2009 and the President submitted it to the U.S. Senate in May 2012 for its advice and consent for ratification; a vote on the CRPD in December 2012 fell five votes short in 2012. The treaty requires no changes to U.S. laws or new appropriations.

A very good summary of the CPRD can be found at:

The president of the American Association of People with Disabilities on what the MC gets horribly wrong.

Kanye West’s recent demand that every member of the audience stand up during his show in Sydney, Australia showed a fundamental lack of understanding about the world in which we live. Kanye took it a step further by literally shining a light on two members of the audience who remained seated due to their disabilities. Kanye demanded confirmation that they were indeed disabled thereby singling them out. At this point, Kanye went from showing a lack of understanding to being downright offensive. However, Kanye’s actions should come as no surprise because the world of disabilities remains largely hidden from the mainstream. Due to this, most Americans don’t think to consider the quality of life for individuals with disabilities in America.

Kanye’s actions should come as no surprise because the world of disabilities remains largely hidden from the mainstream.

Many Americans do not realize that an estimated 1 percent of the world’s population uses a wheelchair. That is 1 out of every 100 people. There are approximately 2.6 million wheelchair users in the United States alone. Despite these large numbers, how many people using wheelchairs do you see on the street? In your workplace? At a sporting event? Unless you live in a metropolitan area, chances are the number is very small. That’s because, even with significant advances in accessibility thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, most Americans with disabilities remain on the sidelines.

For example, 8 out of every 10 Americans with disabilities remains unemployed. Barriers to employment include everything from lack of accessible transportation (subways, buses, taxis) to discriminatory hiring practices. Recently, the Obama Administration implemented a new regulation designed to change these employment numbers, when they set a 7 percent hiring target for people with disabilities by federal contractors. Since 22 percent of the American workforce is employed by federal contractors, this new rule has the power to transform employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Cities across the country, including New York and Washington D.C., are beginning to require accessible taxi cabs, which means more and more people with disabilities can get to and from work and other activities.

These and other initiatives will transform the landscape for people with disabilities. However, the power of one or two people to transform the dialogue should never be underestimated. People with disabilities don’t ask to be singled out. They do however ask to be treated fairly and have access to the same opportunities as any other American. My hope is that Kanye, everyone who attended his concert, and anyone paying attention to this story in the media, learned a little bit more about what it means to be a person with a disability in the modern age and uses their voice to help people with disabilities get off the sideline.

The Daily Beast. Mark Perriello

Motivational Monday: Destiny

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for, but rather something to be achieved. (William Jennings Bryan, 41st US Secretary of State)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you pursue your destiny.

“What is REAL?” the Velveteen Rabbit asked the Skin Horse one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit .

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

Taking the example from The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams): Being Real sometimes hurts. The alternative to being real, however, is unimaginable.

Being Loved sometimes hurts. Although we do our utmost not to deliberately hurt the ones we love, the truth is, we inadvertently hurt the ones we love (and they hurt us), because our hearts are exposed the most to one another. What greater way is there to communicate and to exist, than to live wide openly and authentically Real with one another?

  • I’m not afraid of being in imperfect shape…for that means I’m not left on the shelf, untouched and unharmed.
  • I’m not afraid of my ears being lopsided and my eyes drooping by affectionate touches.
  • I’m not afraid of the seams of my edges fraying from so much caressing.
  • I’m not afraid of going bald because I was rubbed too vigorously (take that ANY way you want!).
  • I’m not afraid of my stuffing being enthusiastically squeezed out of me.
  • I want to endure all that Love is for the sake of being Real…the good days and bad.
  • I want to expose my sunshine as well as my darkness.
  • I want to express joy and as well as sorrow, courage and fear, peace and anxiety.
  • I want to be challenged when I’m wrong, encouraged when I’m scared and lovingly laughed at when I’m being ridiculous.
  • I want to be comforted and played with.
  • I want to be cherished and treasured.
  • I want to be needed and wanted and liked and loved.
  • I want to be seen, heard, felt and tasted.
  • I want to experience the full spectrum of Love, the entire meaning of what it means to be Real.
  • I always want the kind of love that makes me Real…
  • I want to be Real…

In the words of Melissa Etheridge, “I want to live my life pursuing all my happiness. I want a fearless love, I won’t settle for anything less.”


One woman is on a mission to have Congress change laws that keep many people with disabilities from saving much money

September 9, 2014 4:30PM ET

MOSCOW, Pa. – Sara Wolff works for a law firm, sits on the board of directors for several advocacy organizations and is a gifted public speaker. But due to a federal regulation, she’s prohibited from doing something almost every other American has the right to do: save for her future.

That’s because Wolff has Down syndrome and, like millions born with a disability, she receives Supplemental Security Income to help pay her living expenses. In order to meet SSI eligibility requirements, she isn’t allowed to earn more than $700 a month or have more than $2,000 in savings.

If Wolff, a law clerk, worked full time or got a raise, she’d lose her disability benefits and health insurance. In short, she and everyone else with a disability in the United States who receives SSI is legally obliged to be poor.

But since childhood, Wolff, 31, has been known for fighting for her rights. Now, she’s on a mission to have Congress change this longstanding regulation that affects millions of people with disabilities, and she’s attracting strong support for her efforts to help people with disabilities save for their futures.

Click here to read the entire article and watch the video

Sep 5, 2014, Mark Harden, News Director-Denver Business Journal

Customers enter a Hollister Co. store, owned by Abercrombie & Fitch Co., featuring a step-up entrance.

A Denver federal judge’s ruling that Hollister Co. stores discriminated against people in wheelchairs has been partially overturned by a three-judge appellate panel.

The stores are operated by New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF).

U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel in Denver, ruling on a lawsuit brought against Abercrombie, had found that the front-porch-style step-up entrances at 231 of the Hollister youth-fashion chain’s stores violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because they barred wheelchair access.

Last August, Daniel ordered the Hollister stores– representing about 40 percent of its U.S. locations — to reconfigure their wheelchair-unfriendly entrances by the end of 2016.

But The Denver Post’s Kirk Mitchell reports that a three-judge panel of 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges decided 2-1 this week that the entrances do not violate the ADA.

Attorneys for the clothier had argued that side entrances are provided for disabled customers at Hollister stores with non-accessible main entrances, although the lawsuit plaintiffs said the separate entrances were humiliating to use.

The appellate panel did not throw out the class-action suit, which it sent back to Wiley for further consideration.

A representative of the plaintiffs told The Post that they likely would appeal the latest ruling.

One plaintiff in the class-action case is Denver policy analyst Julie Farrar, who previously said she couldn’t access the main entrance of a Denver-area Hollister store in her wheelchair.

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition’s legal program and the Denver-based Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center helped to represent plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit.

Hollister has four stores in Colorado, including outlets at the Park Meadows and FlatIron Crossing malls, according to its website.

Abercrombie & Fitch — which started out in 1892 as a New York outdoor gear retailer — operates more than 800 stores in the U.S. across its various brands and about 160 stores outside of the United States.  What is now L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB, formerly Limited Brands, parent of the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works chains) bought A&F in 1988, then took it public as a separate company in 1996.


A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity.  A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty.  (Chikku George Thomas).

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you decide how to respond to your opportunities.

Mom-To-Be Sues To Have Accommodations In Delivery Room

Sometime this month or next, Cheylla Silva will be admitted to Baptist Hospital in Miami to give birth to her second child. The delivery will be high-risk: Silva suffers from high blood pressure and other complications.

Silva is hoping the delivery goes smoothly because if there are serious problems, she might be at a loss to communicate with her doctors and nurses. Silva is profoundly deaf, and, for months, Baptist administrators have refused to provide her with an American sign language interpreter, she says.

Late last week, Silva filed an emergency motion in federal court, asking U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams to order Baptist to provide the interpreter, arguing the hospital’s refusal to do so violates the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark civil rights law signed by then-President George Bush in 1990.

Baptist’s obligation, the suit says, “is to ensure that deaf patients be provided an equal opportunity to participate in their care and treatment.”

“One of the essential elements of personal dignity,” the pleading adds, “is the ability to obtain the necessary information to make an adequate and informed choice about one’s own medical treatment. Medical treatment and childbirth are some of the most intense and important experiences for a person.”

Through a telephonic interpreter, Silva said her experiences at Baptist, which is near where she lives, have frequently been frustrating. “Can you imagine going to a doctor’s office and not being able to understand what they are talking about? And it’s about your care. How would you feel?”

“They write back and forth with pen and paper,” she said. “I don’t understand words in writing. I don’t understand sentence structure. English is not my first language. American sign language is.”

Representatives of Baptist Hospital declined to discuss Silva’s emergency motion with the Miami Herald.

In a statement, Assistant Vice President Christine Kotler said patient confidentiality prevented the hospital from speaking about the case. She added: “Providing a safe and positive experience for our patients and guests is a top priority, and we do our very best to provide a comfortable and supportive care environment. To that end, we provide accommodations for our patients and visitors with disabilities, including but not limited to auxiliary aids and interpretation services for the deaf.”

A federal lawsuit filed on Silva’s behalf claims that another patient, John Paul Jebian, who is profoundly deaf, also was repeatedly denied a sign language interpreter — despite a 2003 settlement to an earlier federal lawsuit Jebian filed in which Baptist administrators agreed to provide interpreters in the future to patients who were deaf or hard of hearing. Hospital staff couldn’t operate a video interpreting service in July 2012 when Jebian suffered chest pains, and refused to get him a live interpreter, the lawsuit claims.

“Instead,” said the suit, filed by Miami civil rights lawyer Matthew Dietz, “Baptist staff communicated with Jebian by writing notes.”

Silva, 31, was born completely deaf, and American sign language was her first language. The Miami woman can read and write in English, but she thinks in American sign, in the same way many bilingual Hispanics form their thoughts in Spanish, not English, she said. And sign language is different structurally from English.

A lawsuit says that Silva has been to Baptist about 20 times since 2009, and been denied an interpreter most times. When Silva is seen at Baptist — in the emergency room, or at a doctor’s appointment — she often has difficulty explaining her symptoms, or expressing what she is feeling.

Since Silva learned she was pregnant, around February, she “had to ask questions about her pregnancy via writing, and [to] try to read the answers,” her lawsuit states.

In recent months, Silva has communicated with doctors a variety of ways: Sometimes they exchange handwritten notes. Sometimes family members explain her symptoms to doctors — when Silva’s mother or brother interpreted, Silva was relying on someone whose first language was Spanish to translate English into American sign. The hospital also has provided a video translation system that is supposed to allow Silva to communicate with an interpreter remotely. The interpreter then speaks with her doctor.

But Silva said that, as often as not, the Video Remote Interpreting device, or VRI, just doesn’t work.

“When they set up the VRI screen at the hospital, it will come on and then the signal will disconnect, or it freezes,” Silva told the Miami Herald through an interpreter patched in to her phone line. “There are whole portions I don’t get. It’s lousy. I am getting only parts here and there of what the interpreter on screen is saying. The signal is so bad it does not work.”

Silva’s medical records document the difficulties in communicating, court records say. During a November 2009 appointment, for example, a doctor at Baptist wrote that Silva “was unable to describe [her] symptoms,” or to “provide her medical history.” In January and May of 2011, records said the video conferencing device was inoperable. During a May 9, 2011 visit, when Silva was suffering from acute appendicitis, a medical chart said Silva was “deaf mute [with] very little lip reading.” For two hours before family members arrived, staff communicated by passing notes.

During a June 2013 visit, court records say, the “language line phone [was] inoperable” when Silva sought treatment for chest pains. In February of this year, the VRI machine’s image “was fuzzy, making it difficult for Silva to see the remote interpreter.”

Silva, who receives federal disability payments because she is unable to work, said she does not understand why others with disabilities receive assistance, while she is asked to do without.

“It’s not fair,” she said. “They build ramps for people who have to use wheelchairs to get in. They don’t tell them they have to bring a ramp with them every time they come.”

By Linda Graham | August 20, 2014

A new study suggests that self-compassion improves mood, largely by helping us avoid negative rumination.

“I can’t do this right,” says my patient Carla. “I know I’m going to fail. I can never do anything right.”  The most innocent wish—to walk in the park, to meet a friend for lunch, to meditate— would trigger this relentlessly harsh inner voice, 24/7.

In our therapy sessions, Carla was ruminating—thinking the same negative worrisome thoughts over and over again.

Rumination usually doesn’t solve what we’re worried about and, in fact, leaves us more vulnerable to staying in a funk, even becoming depressed. Rumination makes our view of events, and our feelings about ourselves, worse.

What is the solution?

We focused on nurturing self-compassion, which means becoming mindfully aware of the pain one feels when experiencing moments of failure, recognizing that such shortcomings are common to all human beings, and then evoking a sense of kindness and care toward one’s self in those moments.

Carla (whose name I have changed) started with a five-day workshop on self-compassion—then continued support for her daily practice through diligent journaling. She would help shift her mood by journaling right in our sessions, writing a compassionate paragraph to herself, or jotting down notes about what was beginning to work for her.

A new study suggests that we were onto something. Natasha Odou and Jay Brinker at the Australian National University found that writing about a negative experience from a self-compassionate stance significantly improved mood by allowing people to process (rather than avoid) negative emotions.

In contrast, participants in the same study who wrote about a negative event in an emotionally expressive way showed a worsening of mood and depressive symptoms. While simply expressing one’s emotions is sometimes advocated as a healthy response to negative events, in this case it may have actually exacerbated ruminative tendencies.

These findings contribute to the growing realization that self-compassion practices generate positive outcomes—more well-being in general, more life satisfaction, personal initiative and social connectedness—and protect us from negative experiences of rumination, self-criticism, shame, anxiety, and depression.

Odou and Brinker attribute these positive impacts of self-compassion on mood, in part, to the fact that self-compassion is a tool of approaching rather than avoiding emotions, allowing participants to maintain an awareness, exploration, and understanding of them. Rumination, on the other hand, is a kind of emotional avoidance that prevents effective processing of emotions.

They also found that significant improvement in mood occurred after only 10 minutes of practice, meaning that people in therapy, or on their own, could use the exercise to improve their mood soon after a distressing event occurs. While staying aware of and open to their experience in the moment, they could also effectively avoid spinning into a ruminative, depressive downward spiral. They could acknowledge that they make mistakes but didn’t have to feel badly about something that is a common human experience.

Theirs isn’t the only study to come to this conclusion. In a similar study in 2010, Leah Shapira and Myriam Mongrain found that writing a self-compassionate letter once a day for seven days resulted in greater happiness and reduced depression symptom three and six months later.

Odou and Brinker acknowledged that further research needs to be done on the impact of self-compassion practice with people currently experiencing depression, because depression involves factors beyond negative mood that need to be taken into account.

But their findings are important because self-compassion practice and rumination both involve the default mode of processing in the brain, where the mind is free to meander or play, making new associations and links on its own. This study suggests that while the brain is in that mode of processing, a self-compassionate writing exercise allows participants to stay open to and accepting of experience—whereas, in that same mode of processing, writing in an unfiltered, emotionally expressive way leads to the kind of ruminative thinking that simply makes matters worse.

In our therapy sessions, Carla would often begin with a report full of disappointment and discouragement, but as we identified moments of her inner life going well: a delight in a genuine, heartfelt connection with her ailing mother; a moment when she caught herself about to fall down the same negative spiral, put her hand on her heart, and said these phrases to herself instead, “May I be safe. May I be kind to myself. May I have ease of mind and heart.” Through her own skillful coping, she experienced a true care and concern for herself that made her feel better.

One day, after three months of conscious and sincere effort, Carla came into her session with glee. She had experienced five days of success in a row, compassionately setting her inner ruminator to one side and focusing steadily on self-compassion, whether writing, talking to herself, or talking with a friend. “I can do this! I am doing this!” she told me. “I feel sure, happy, and proud.”

Exercise: Self-Compassionate Letter

Think of an issue you have that tends to make you feel bad about yourself—a mistake, your appearance, etc.

Imagine a friend who is unconditionally wise, loving, and compassionate. Imagine that this friend can see all your strengths and weaknesses, including what you don’t like about yourself.

Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this imaginary friend, focusing on your perceived inadequacy. What would this friend say to you from a compassionate perspective? How might her suggestions embody care, encouragement, and support?

Now wait. Put the letter down for a little while. Then come back to it and read it again, really letting the words sink in. Feel the compassion as it pours into you, soothing and comforting you.

If you prefer, you can also write a letter as if you were talking to a dearly loved friend who was struggling with the same concern that you are. What words of compassion and support would you offer? Then go back and read the letter, applying the words to yourself.

Motivational Monday: Changing Your Now

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending” (Maria Robinson. The Time Is Now). Marianne Williamson reinforces this in Lessons We Learned in Life, “We do not heal the past by dwelling there.  We heal the past by living fully in the present. “  That doesn’t mean we go through life free of pain and that we are happy all the time.  The reality of the past cannot be changed.  We change only by changing the now.  That is all we have to work with.  What I do now is me and molds who I will become tomorrow (David Reynolds. Constructive Living).

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you change your now.