The entries on this site are organized by category and by date. You are in the International Issues category. Content is posted within each category in chronological order, with the most recent entries first. For a complete list of categories and sub-categories on this site, visit the categories page. You may also find content by using the search feature or the site map. Consult the archives for content organized by date and title.
Szilvia Nyusti and Péter Takács are blind advocates in Hungary who wanted their bank (the largest bank in their country) to install Talking ATMs. After all, they paid the same fees as sighted customers, why shouldn’t they have the same access to services and technology? After a five year legal battle in Hungary, they took their claims to the United Nations. On May 16, 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued an historic ruling finding that Hungary violated the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) by failing to ensure that Hungarian banks had Talking ATMs. Congratulations to Szilvia and Peter. Congratulations to the United Nations. Congratulations to the CRPD for working as it should in protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Shame on the United States for failing to ratify the treaty.
Today, May 9, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day — a great day to become aware of laws around the globe that impact digital accessibility. Laws related to digital accessibility support and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Core components of life in the 21st century exist in the digital space, and without accessibility, basic human rights are diminished or completely denied. These include the right to education, employment, public services, health care, community, travel and more. Laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities to access digital content — whether found on the web, in a mobile application, through electronic kiosks or elsewhere — are an important piece of the puzzle that makes digital accessibility a reality.
On May 9, 2013 people around the world will be gathering for workshops, seminars and other events to celebrate and recognize the second annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, or GAAD. As explained on the GAAD Facebook page, the day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to focus one day to raise the profile of digital (web, software, mobile app/device, touch screen kiosk, etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities. The Law Office of Lainey Feingold’s legal practice is entirely focused on digital accessibility, and this post is my tribute to the wonderful idea that is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Congratulations to the grassroots community that is growing GAAD and especially to accessibility activist extraordinaire Jennison Asuncion whose enthusiasm and commitment is significantly responsible for the tremendous growth of this day of awareness.
Senator Kerry was eloquent. 89-year old Bob Dole emailed from Walter Reid hospital and made it to the Senate floor to urge a yes vote. Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng wrote a supporting letter. Veterans, disability and civil rights group lobbied, tweeted, and organized. But it wasn’t enough. On December 4, at 9:29 a.m., thirty eight Republican Senators voted against the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (#CRPD). Thirty eight votes is all it took to deprive the majority of the 2/3 vote needed to ratify a basic human rights treaty already approved by over 120 countries around the world. Yesterday at 9:29 a.m. human rights lost. The victors, to quote the New York Times, were “purveyors of paranoid politics.”
On Tuesday December 4th, the United States Senate can join over 120 other countries and ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Supporters of the treaty span almost the entire political spectrum – President Obama, Senate Democrats, the U.S. disability community, 21 faith organizations, 30 veteran organizations, movie critic Roger Ebert, and the U.S Chamber of Commerce and former president George HW Bush, to name just a few.
Who’s missing? The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. Led by Rick Santorum and Tea Party front group Patriot Voice, the far right threatens to derail years of work by human and civil rights activists around the world. The CRPD vote will be a showdown between Tea Party activists and those who believe people with disabilities around the world deserve education, employment, and basic human and civil rights.
The article posted here about NCR’s Talking ATMs in India first appeared in the Hindu Business Line. The Law Office of Lainey Feingold, and Linda Dardarian, first engaged with NCR in the mid-1990’s as the Talking ATM initiative was getting underway in the United States. This story about NCR’s Talking (and solar-powered!) ATMs demonstrates yet again that accessibility is an international issue. Accessible technology that starts in one country is bound to make its way around the world. The technology corporations are global, advocacy needs to be too. Blind advocates are not mentioned in the story below, but no doubt they played an important role in efforts to bring independent access to financial services to India.