by Andrew Kirkpatrick

 Comments (6)


November 12, 2013

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Content in this blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Example code provided is licensed under Adobe’s Creative Commons Plus License.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006, and has since been signed by 137 countries. The CRPD affirms the equality of all people, without exceptions due to their abilities. This month, Adobe sent a letter of support for the ratification of the Convention to Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Senate is responsible for approving treaties put forward for ratification by the president. The CRPD was signed by the United States in 2009. Unfortunately, at the time the CRPD was first presented to the Senate, it was not approved, falling just a few votes short of the required two-thirds vote.

Adobe is adding its voice to the chorus of organizations and advocates that believe the CRPD is an important step toward ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to government services, employment opportunities, and technological advances. One of the expectations of the CRPD is that ratifying countries will adopt standards for information technology accessibility. In order to facilitate the goal of equal access, it is critical that the adopted standards be harmonized to ensure that software from companies such as Adobe, developers creating content, and assistive technology vendors can focus on a single global standard for accessibility rather than needing to address unique requirements in each country.

The United States, through legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, has already affirmed that disability must not be a barrier to entering a building, finding and keeping a job, interacting with government officials and services, shopping, dining out, or moving from place to place. Other U.S. laws guarantee equal access to education, voting, buying a home, catching a flight, and even watch TV shows on the Internet. While there is still work to be done, the foresight of bipartisan U.S. policymakers over the decades in creating a legislative framework that moves this country toward equal access for all people is now being emulated worldwide. Ratifying the CRPD will further show the world that these are the values we should all share.


  • By Andrea S. - 12:02 PM on November 12, 2013  

    THANK YOU for your support for the CRPD! I hope individuals reading this page will help take action too by communicating with Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee (in addition to their own Senators). The Citizen Action Center at is great for providing phone numbers and suggested scripts for phone calls, template emails that you can revise (if desired) and then send to all key Foreign Relations Committee members at the push of a button, and even template tweets. We need to keep the pressure on Senators to move forward the CRPD toward ratification!

  • By Axel Leblois - 11:24 AM on November 14, 2013  

    Adobe’s blog and public support of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) are excellent contributions to the current ratification debate. Beyond all the reasons already expressed during the Senate hearings emphasizing the historic leadership of the United States in promoting Disability Rights, Adobe rightly points out to the critical importance of harmonizing accessibility standards and good practices around the world.
    One consensus among industry and disability advocacy is that global standards and harmonization are necessary to 1/ lower the costs of accessible and assistive technologies and 2/ maintain good interoperability across the world. What was not stated during the latest U.S. Senate hearing is that Americans with disabilities can only derive considerable benefits at home from such harmonization by enjoying cheaper, interoperable accessible technologies.
    Naysayers may argue that CRPD ratification has nothing to do with those issues. We can attest of the exact contrary: while the U.S. information technology industry remains the main source of innovation for accessibility around the world, the share of its own domestic market relative to the global market place cannot drive global harmonization alone. For instance, while the most innovative mobile operating system accessibility features are designed in the United States, the majority of handsets are produced in Asia and 95% of the 6.5 billion mobile phone users are outside the United States. Global harmonized accessibility policies are thus necessary to achieve economies of scale and interoperability. The United States Access Board certainly pioneered this notion when it invited international observers to participate in its deliberations when reviewing section 508 standards.
    In that regard, the CRPD offers a unique and very effective platform and ICT accessibility framework for the U.S. to actively promote the harmonization of accessible information technologies around the world. The United States should ratify the CRPD and participate in the CRPD Committee in Geneva. It should support the programs of various international organizations – including G3ict – supporting States Parties in adopting harmonized approaches to ICT accessibility. To be specific by way of examples: last May, the CRPD Committee provided a first set of guidelines for States Parties on ATMs and banking accessibility. In 2014, it will provide guidelines for the accessibility of air transportation. Other areas of technology are to follow. And, while the expertise of the U.S. Information Technology industry is well respected abroad, the lack of support of the United States for the CRPD prevents official U.S. representation to weigh in and is hurting in subtle ways in every international meeting where harmonization issues are debated.
    Our experience at G3ict working with industry, advocates and governments in all corners of the world is that the voice of the United States is sorely missed when it comes to technology accessibility issues.
    Thank you to Adobe for its strong and effective endorsement of the CRPD.

  • By Larry Goldberg - 7:57 PM on November 18, 2013  

    Bravo for you Adobe! Congratulations on your excellent leadership!

  • By Vesna Rafaty - 11:11 AM on November 19, 2013  

    It is great to have such a powerful voice as Adobe speak clearly about the CRPD! Thank you Adobe! Yes a global harmonization of standards could go a long way. Eliza Varney speaks too of the need for universal design in her 2013 book entitled Disability and Information Technology – A Comparative Study in Media Regulation.

    Adobe, by your statement on CRDP we at startup DylanListed already consider you a partner!

    We at DylanListed are building an enterprise grade cloud-based platform that will remove some of the barriers in finding, training, recruiting, hiring and retaining US job seekers who self-identify as having a disability. This platform is an innovation of my 23-year old son Dylan whose connection to the disability community derives from his experience as a hearing-impaired student of special education.

  • By jesus.pedroza - 9:06 AM on November 21, 2013  

    Bravo for you Adobe Congratulations on your excellent work.

  • By Helen Walsh - 12:21 PM on November 22, 2013  

    Adobe THANK YOU for Supporting CRPD and adding your voice to the chorus of organizations and advocates. Together we will make a change !!!!