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Part 1: UK and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

un-logo.jpegIn the Spring 2009 the UK will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This is an important Convention, and even has specific parts relating to sign language. The potential implications are huge and it is important to at least have some awareness of what is happening.

I will cover this topic in a number of blog posts, because there's too much for one post. I am going to try and reach out to different people on different levels, so the posts might not be enough for you. If someone wants to translate these posts into BSL, please feel free.

Background to the Convention

This is linked to human rights. Human rights are basic rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled to. E.g. right to life, equality before law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and other international instruments has not always reached disabled people. This means that human rights of disabled and/or deaf people have not always happened, or these groups need specific measures to protect their basic rights.

In 2006 the United Nations (UN) agreed on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Convention includes a number of measures aimed at disabled and deaf people. The inclusion of clauses relating to Deaf people were advocated by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).

UN conventions comes under international law. English law has a legal system called dualism. This means international law needs to be made law in our own country before it comes into effect. In other words the Convention needs to be ratified.

This Convention was opened up for country signature on the 30 March 2007. You can check if your country has ratified the Convention.

So what about the UK?

The government has said it will ratify this Convention by Spring 2009. See this written answer in the House of Lords on 18 December 2008.

On 3 March 2009, Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People, announced that the parliamentary process for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had begun. Full statement can be seen here.

But we have the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), why do we need more law?

The Convention is based on human rights, and not really a law around the prohibition of discrimination (as the DDA). It is about promotion of basic rights.

Articles relating to Sign Language

Whilst the UN Convention contains many articles that apply to deaf people, there are some specific articles that relate to sign language.

Sign language is specifically mentioned eight different times in five different articles. Within the next few posts, I will go through these articles, and hope people will participate as to what it could mean in practice for Deaf people in the UK.

Elsewhere:
Cm: 7564 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: New York, 13 December 2006 (DWP Command Paper)

Comments (6)

I recently saw a presentation by Markuu, President of WFD, who stated that 6 articles directly affect Deaf people, who use sign language. Which one will you be touching on?

2, 9, 21, 24, 30 - did I miss one out?

Alison


I am interested in this outcome but noted that you are touching the issues sign language. May I ask would this UN convention will also be touching the issues deafness and the varibles - the different forms of communication strategy that we have as to ensure that we are not dominated by the issues Deaf = BSL. Not that I am dismissing BSL but I am concern that we are losing the essence deafness and the opression of living with this in a hearing society. I am at loss how to ask you of this properly and I hope that I have but to check with you on this. WFD doesn't touch this issues I believe but correct me if I am wrong.
I am no better expert that you are in the way you are putting this across.
I thank you for this input you are giving us.

Yep I get you. I mentioned sign language specifically, because the entire convention is way too huge for me to commit writing about here. If I said I'd attempt to take on the whole thing in my first post, I'd raise expectations and which I'm not sure if I could fulfill. I think I'd scare myself at the sheer amount too, and run away from ever writing anything! :)

Let's *try* and cover sign language (some of it does touch on "communication") and pull in other modes within this? At the end, if we're not out of energy, and people aren't too bored ... will see what's left? Some of it is general, which could mean anything ... and gets into territory, how long is a piece of string. Is that agreeable?

(And I say "we" because how these articles could be interpreted, how we are currently at shortfall - I certainly won't have all the answers).

Another point: this raises a basic issue, why am I as an individual having to write about / let UK deaf people know about this? There's hundreds of deaf organisations in the UK, raking in millions upon millions; to my knowledge I've not seen any evidence of anyone interacting with deaf people to get them more involved / educated! This is crucial, given Article 33 - which I will come to, through writing.

There are only 5 articles that mention sign language, my mistake.
Brief description can be found in WFD's newsletter:
http://gehoerlosen-bund.de/download/pdf/WFD_Newsletter_Feb_2009.pdf

Agreeable about the low duty of accountabilities with those highly funded deaf orgs - their silent in the informing and enagaging users.
My situation with the LINk has come to a head re access issues and then again deaf orgs are burying their head in the sand in the supporting and addressing this - simply I do not lick their arses to be a cow tow passive crippers.
I hope the UN convention will bring further clout to stop the mingers.

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