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American Dream, English Nightmare

January 23, 2009

I’ve said right from the start that President Obama’s election was a victory for all minorities, worldwide, and proof that anything is possible, in spite of anything. Being DisAbled, I was thrilled when he mentioned DisAbled people in his victory speech on election night. I was slightly less impressed when we failed to be included in his inauguration speech on Tuesday, however.


I soon cheered up about this after reading a post at the Uhad2bethere News Blog, which highlights President Obama’s main plans for Americans with DisAbilities. Obama has what look like great plans for his DisAbled people. First, and most importantly, Obama’s government are planning to sign and ratify the international Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, something that President Bush’s government, like our own, did not do. I am now going to list Obama’s main plans for Americans with DisAbilities, react to them and compare them with the plans that the UK government, who are still refusing to ratify the CRPD, have in store for their DisAbled people if and when they finally do so. We should all know by now that the UK government plan to modify the Convention if and when they ratify it.


So, Obama plans to provide Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.


Anyone who has ever been a DisAbled child in a British school, whether special or mainstream, will tell you how few of our schools ever really do that. If and when the UK government does ratify the CRPD, access to mainstream education for DisAbled children is one of the main areas they plan to modify. So even after the convention is ratified, our government doesn’t seem to be planning to improve our access to educational opportunities.


Obama also plans to end discrimination and promote equal opportunity for Americans with DisAbilities.


A great dream, but one that I, unfortunately, doubt will ever come true, either in America or in the UK. Obama’s government, and our own, can promote equal opportunities for the DisAbled all they like, but there is too much proof to mention that discrimination against us will never truly end. Maybe planning to reduce it would be more realistic?


Then, Obama plans to increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities.


This is something that, I have to admit, the UK government has been trying to do for a long time. So I can only wish Obama luck on that one.


Finally, Obama plans to support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities.


The CRPD includes the right to live in the community, but, on 30th March 2008, the Executive Director of Cerebral Palsy charity Scope, Andy Rickell, was concerned that the UK would opt out of several sections –  including… the right not to live in a residential home.


So, it seems that I was right. Even though we were not mentioned in his speech on Tuesday, President Obama’s election really is a victory for all American minorities, including the DisAbled. His plans for DisAbility laws even seem better than those of the British government. I only hope that he, unlike the British government, who keep delaying ratification of the CRPD, can keep his promises to his people. If he does, the American Dream will, really and truly, finally have come true.


This post is part of the Inclusion Rules! Debate at Same Difference.  

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Letters From A Tory permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:30 am

    “Obama plans to increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities”

    That is where things start to get very dangerous. Promoting equal opportunities is the right thing to do but forcing people with disabilities into jobs at the expense of others would be a step too far.

    Harriet Harman received a mauling in the press for her attempts to take jobs away from the middle classes and give them to others. Obama should not make the same mistake.

  2. samedifference1 permalink
    January 23, 2009 11:30 am

    Thanks for your comments!

  3. onedayrockstar permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:03 pm

    I think it’s interesting that the rest of the world outside of the US seems to be looking to Obama to set an example for their own countries, potentially. Personally, I think it is too early to be criticizing his goals that he has not yet had a chance to address- the time for that is later, when he does. Obviously, a lot of things are “in progress” but at least minorities are on the agenda. As an American citizen, it’s good to see that under this administration, all kinds of people who deserve to enjoy the full extent of their rights, from the disAbled, to ethnic minorites, to gays and lesbians- might get a chance at what is rightfully theirs.

  4. samedifference1 permalink
    January 24, 2009 12:50 am

    Thanks for your comments. You’re right of course, as a person in a minority (or three) it is good to see that at least minorities are somewhere on someone’s agenda.

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