WASHINGTON – On the anniversary of the United Nations adopting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, United States Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and United States Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced H. Con. Res 80, which declares federal government support of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act as well as legislation from 1968 requiring all infrastructure built with public funds to be made fully accessible to disabled individuals. This bipartisan resolution was cosponsored by Representatives Susie Lee (NV-03), Jim Langevin (RI-02), Jim Himes (CT-04), John Larson (CT-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), David Cicilline (RI-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Donald Payne (NJ-02), and Don Young (AK-AL).
Adopted in 2006, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities became global law in May 2008. It has become one of the most widely-supported global treaties, having been ratified by more than 85% of United Nations member states. The Convention recognized global disability rights in a variety of areas including infrastructure design, communications, and accessibility.
Rep. Hayes said: “Throughout our history, we have worked to expand the protection of the law all. This resolution is the latest step on that journey – a pledge that our government – and the buildings that house it - must work for all Americans. I thank Senator Blumenthal and all of my colleagues for joining me in this bipartisan effort to commit to equality under the law.”
Sen Blumenthal said: “While we’ve made tremendous progress because of landmark laws, we still have far more to do to ensure every American has equal opportunity, access and rights. We must tear down all barriers preventing people with disabilities from striving for the American Dream—including physical barriers that make federal buildings and federally-funded housing inaccessible to them and keep them away from vital services and opportunities.”
Rep. Lee said: “When one of my constituents comes to me with a problem, I’ll do everything in my power to help them. That’s just what happened here. A Boulder City resident and member of the Nevada advocacy group, Nevadans For The Common Good, Bruce Benke, wrote to me and told me their local Post Office didn’t have automatic doors. Swinging a door open is something able-bodied people take for granted, but a resident with a physical disability doesn’t have that luxury. After a back-and-forth with USPS, it was made clear they just don’t have the funding for automatic doors. Unfortunately, there are Post Offices and federally-funded buildings throughout the country with inadequate physical access just like in my district. A society is measured by how it looks after its most vulnerable populations, and this bipartisan resolution is an important step in our duty to guarantee all Americans have access to federally-funded resources like the postal service.”
Rep. Langevin said: “Our nation has made good progress in expanding access, but it is clear that we must do more to build an inclusive future for all. On the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we recommit ourselves to building public infrastructure that is welcoming to everyone. I thank my colleagues for coming together to show bipartisan support for this important cause.”
Rep. Himes said: “The contributions and voices of our neighbors with disabilities are vital to enabling American success in the future. To ensure that all people have access to the public square it’s imperative we make our buildings accessible and open. I’m proud to support Congresswoman Hayes’ resolution to show that the Connecticut delegation is unified in this priority.”
Rep. Larson said: “I’m proud to join Representative Hayes in introducing this resolution. We have made many strides in ensuring our nation’s buildings are accessible to all, but more must be done. On the anniversary of the UN resolution, we are proud to affirm our support of the Americans with Disabilities Act and our pledge to make universal and inclusive design part of all infrastructure projects.”
Rep. DeLauro said: “I am proud to recognize our nation’s commitment to the principles of inclusion and expanding access and opportunities for all. All Americans deserve the ability to live and work with dignity, as well as contribute to their communities and our country.”
Rep. Courtney said: “I’m grateful to Congresswoman Hayes for introducing this resolution, and I’m proud to join her in pressing ahead for a more complete realization of the goals set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act – especially so on the anniversary of the historic United Nations resolution adopting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We must continue to ensure that inclusivity and accessibility are at the core of planning when it comes to future infrastructure projects.”
Rep. Payne said: “The Americans with Disabilities Act was crucial to the protection of civil rights for disabled Americans. It was a way to make sure every American had access to jobs, transportation and public facilities. Democracy works best when all citizens have equal protection under the law. I am proud to support this bipartisan resolution and thank Congresswoman Jahana Hayes as well as Senator Blumenthal for drafting it.”
Rep. Young said: "People living with disabilities come from all walks of life. They are our family members, friends, and neighbors. We should be doing all that we can to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of those with disabilities. This resolution is an important one, as it makes clear that all people -- regardless of ability -- are created equally, and deserve the same access to public places as anyone else. I sincerely thank my colleagues for their work on this important effort.”
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year. Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District