Editorial Comment: Historic Convention

It is surely a measure of the strides the disability movement has made worldwide that the first UN convention agreed this century is aimed at enshrining the rights of disabled people and people with learning difficulties.

These once marginalised groups now occupy centre stage and it’s a cause for celebration that their right to equal treatment in areas such as health care and education is now up there in lights, set out in an international treaty.

Of course in this country many of these rights are already subject to law. Although we might be able to pat ourselves on the back that we are ahead of many countries when it comes to promoting equal opportunities for disabled people, we should not be too complacent.

The fact that the UK government has set a deadline as far off as 2025 for achieving a real transformation of the lives of disabled people recognises that there is still a long way to go here. Achieving equal access amounts to more than installing a few wheelchair ramps.

But this historic UN convention is a boost for the cause of equal rights and testament to the fact that at last it seems attitudes really are shifting away from what disabled people can’t do, to what they can do.

Additional reading

Campaigners hail UN convention on disabilities as step to better lives
UN convention for disabled people: special report

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