Work for Independence of Disabled People Worldwide; Disability Rights; Sen. Blunt Should Support Treaty That Exports Our Standards to Other Countries
Starkloff, Colleen Kelly, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
This week Americans celebrate independence. Yet nearly 20 percent of our own citizens citizens with disabilities must fight for their independence every day. This holiday presents us an opportunity to reflect upon those still seeking independence, and ask our leaders to further the cause of freedom and independence for all in the United States and around the world.
I have been working in the field of disability rights since 1973, when I met my husband, Max J. Starkloff. At the time, there were really no disability rights in our country. Max lived in a nursing home and hated it. He worked so hard to get out and to fight for the right of others with disabilities so they wouldn't have to live in isolation and oppression in nursing homes. He fought for independence. And he got out. He got married and he led our community, joining with other disability rights leaders to lead the world in changing attitudes toward people with disabilities.
In the late '80s, we worked for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. That law, which recognized that people with disabilities have rights, began to change how disabled people live in our nation. In 2000, Max and I went to Hawaii to meet with other disabled leaders from around the world and discuss how we could impact the quality of life of our brothers and sisters in the many nations that do not have laws, policies or societal attitudes that recognize rights for the disabled. Out of that meeting, and many subsequent meetings, came the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. …