The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Will Ratification Lead to a Holistic Approach to Postsecondary Education for Persons with Disabilities?
45 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2013 Last revised: 22 May 2013
Date Written: 2013
In August 2012, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD”), the first human rights convention of the 21st century, was sent to the full Senate for ratification. The CRPD, one of the most far-reaching international documents in history for the protection of marginalized individuals with disabilities, emphasizes the impact that attitudinal and environmental barriers in society have on the enjoyment of human rights. By focusing on these barriers, the CRPD represents a paradigm shift from an accommodation approach for persons with disabilities to a human rights mandate for society. This shift is best understood domestically through the lens of a universal design approach to disability. Universal design ensures that environments are accessible and usable by all people, whether they are disabled or not. The human rights mandate of the CRPD and equitable holistic approach of universal design have appropriate application in the realm of higher education. This article is the first to conceptualize and envision a human rights approach to United States higher education and disability law through the holistic application of universal design in learning and instruction.
Providing and ensuring postsecondary education to persons with disabilities is important in ameliorating the disproportionate treatment that persons with disabilities have endured. United States laws, such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, have attempted to remedy deficiencies in the access provided to persons with disabilities. The CRPD, however, represents a paradigm shift in the area of disabilities by moving from a medical or social approach to persons with disability, to a human rights model. This shift to a holistic, human rights model as embodied in Article 24 of the CRPD demands a right to education for all persons, including persons with disabilities. The holistic approach of the CRPD, as implemented through the principles of universal design, is the most efficient and cost-effective method for benefiting all persons with or without disability in higher education. State courts, through decisions that implement the CRPD’s cultural, social, and political rights, are uniquely positioned to further these holistic goals.
Keywords: Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD, human rights
JEL Classification: I28, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation