Americans with Disabilities Act

Americans with Disabilities Act and the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a USA national civil rights law, became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.

In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law accepting the proposed amendments and became effective on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability.” The changes in the definition of disability in the ADAAA apply to all titles of the ADA, including Title I (employment practices of private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, agents of the employer and joint management-labor committees); Title II (programs and activities of state and local government entities); and Title III (private entities that are considered places of public accommodation).

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol (A/RES/61/106) is an international treaty guided by human rights principles, was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. There are currently 177 ratifications to the CRPD and 92 ratifications to its Optional Protocol.

The CRPD is a landmark international treaty. It is a comprehensive human rights convention and international development tool and is at the heart of the disability rights movement. The purpose of the present Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with other society members who may not have medically diagnosed disability.

The principles of the present Convention shall be:

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
  • Non-discrimination;
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  • Equality of opportunity;
  • Accessibility;
  • Equality between men and women;
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by the States (countries) Parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially within two years of accepting the Convention and thereafter every four years. The Committee examines each report and shall make such suggestions and general recommendations on the report as it may consider appropriate and shall forward these to the


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