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Debra Ruh

  Employability & Technology


The CRPD - Impact & Opportunities

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Debra Ruh stresses on the need for international corporations to serve as a benchmark and source for good practices in support of an effective implementation of the CRPD.

Since its opening for signature in March 2007, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been signed by 153 countries and ratified with full enforceability by 110 countries. This is one of the fastest rates of adoption of any international treaty in recent history. Its article 27 (see below) on “Work and employment” establishes the foundation for national policies and programs similar in nature to some of the most advanced legislations around the world, including the requirement for reasonable accommodation. Significant opportunities can be leveraged in this context by organizations conducting business internationally.

While the actual implementation at country level will take time, the CRPD is already having a profound impact on national legislations; according to G3ict’s latest CRPD Progress Report on ICT Accessibility, a survey of ratifying countries conducted in cooperation with Disabled Peoples’ International, 91% have already adopted a constitutional article, law or regulation defining the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and 72% a definition of “Reasonable Accommodation” in a law or regulation regarding the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

What does this mean for organizations operating internationally?

  • As was evidenced by a briefing session organized by G3ict at the United Nations headquarters in September 2011 at the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD - during which IBM, Microsoft, AT&T and Time Warner described their current employment and workplace accommodation practices - leading international companies can serve as an important benchmark and source for good practices in support of an effective implementation of the CRPD. This means that organizations doing business internationally may have a unique opportunity to demonstrate leadership and exercise a positive influence with local stakeholders in those countries where they operate.
  • For organizations that have integrated the principle of diversity and equal employment opportunities in their corporate values, explicitly promoting and leveraging the principle of the CRPD can further establish their thought leadership and the contemporary and progressive nature of their employment policies among their current and prospective employees around the world. Since the CRPD is now enforceable almost everywhere around the world, it is a natural step to take anyway.
  • While many countries are currently issuing new policies and programs reflecting the dispositions of the CRPD, few are monitoring and promoting practical technical solutions and standards for workplace accommodation and accessibility; among ratifying countries, 59% do not monitor ICT accessibility standards. International companies can leverage their technical know-how and further enhance their reputation as leading experts in accessibility and being among the best organizations to work for. International organizations can, in the context of local CSR programs, help local stakeholders including government and organizations of persons with disabilities learn about accessibility.
  • Finally, involving persons with disabilities and mainstreaming accessibility in product design, marketing, sales and services creates opportunities in many foreign cultures. Addressing the needs of persons with disabilities constitutes a strong positive attribute from a brand and reputation standpoint. Local subsidiaries can gain strong recognition and support from local government and communities for being proactive with Universal Design strategies and programs for persons with disabilities.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please join us for this month’s free webinar:

SSB BART Group presents a USBLN/G3ict Webinar -
Leadership Opportunities for Organizations with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
March 13, 2012 - 2pm to 3pm EST Register Now!
Presented by:
Axel Leblois, G3ict
Jill Houghton, USBLN
Debra RuhDebra Ruh (born 1958) is an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. She is President of TecAccess, LLC, an internationally renowned consulting firm focused on accessibility of information technology products. Ruh's daughter was diagnosed with down syndrome.[1] Additionally, she speaks around the globe about full accessibility of information technology for persons with disabilities, and on the subject of telework, TecAccess’ model for employing persons with disabilities.