Catching Up with Micah Feldman, Intern and Young Advocate

Micah FeldmanMicah Feldman is a young man “going places.”  Just to give you a sense of how involved Micah is with fulfilling his goals of being an independent young man, taking advantage of every opportunity in his path – it took us at The Arc several weeks to coordinate a time to talk to prepare this blog post. Between Micah’s commitments as an intern at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), speaking engagements at various conferences, and personal events (like his sister’s recent graduation weekend), Micah is not sitting still this summer!

Tell us about how you landed your internship at HHS this summer.

I heard about the AAPD internship program from my mom and thought it sounded like a good experience.  I applied once before, but wasn’t picked.  So I tried again and this summer I’m one of 30 or so people interning in Washington.  I wanted to work at HHS because I met Sharon Lewis at a conference and we became friends.

What is a typical day like at HHS?

Well, every day is different.   But I have spent time doing research on guardianship and voting rights.  I learn about the health care law.  I now know that getting a physical regularly is covered.  I’ve also supported the CRPD (U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).  It needs to get passed.

Why is the CRPD important to you?

It will help people travel more outside the country and have a voice at the table.  It’s important for us to support it.

Let’s talk about the good and the bad of your summer in Washington experience.

The best part was going to the ADA celebration at the White House. Tom Perez, the Secretary of Labor, spoke.  He’s done a lot for people with disabilities.  President Obama was not there because he’s a busy guy.

The worst part is by the end of the day, I’m tired of sitting in front of a computer screen.

What else have you been doing, besides working, here in Washington?

I went to a Nationals baseball game, which was a lot of fun.  I saw the FDR Memorial. And soon I’m going to the Newseum with AAPD.

What’s next for you?

I will go home to Michigan for a few days of rest.  Then I go back to Syracuse University, where I’m getting my certificate in disability studies.  I’m a teaching assistant too.  And I will continue to look for speaking opportunities.

This summer, I learned a lot and met lots of people.  Maybe in the future, I will work here.

We at The Arc wouldn’t be surprised to see Micah again in Washington, working full time or as a self-advocate for important issues like the CRPD.  Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Micah!

The Arc Reacts to the U.S. Senate’s Defeat of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s defeat of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“This is a sad day for individuals with disabilities across the globe. The simple truth is that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would help individuals with disabilities around the world obtain the rights and protections we have here in the United States.  The ratification of this treaty would have unified us with millions of disability advocates, family members, and self-advocates of all nations. This isn’t the end of this fight – advocates across our country will continue to work to make sure that our friends and colleagues abroad know that  we stand with them and share their goals,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc has been working with numerous other disability advocacy groups and U.S. Senators to garner support for the ratification of this treaty, which will promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. For months, The Arc’s Public Policy team and grassroots advocates across the country have been working to promote the CRPD and ensure ratification.  And in October 2012, The Arc hosted its annual convention in Washington, DC with Inclusion International, a global federation of family-based organizations advocating for the human rights of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide.  A major focus of the conference was the vital importance of the CRPD and the release of Inclusion International’s Global Report on the Right to Live and Be Included in the Community.

The United States signed the CRPD on July 30, 2009, joining the 141 other signing nations.  As of June 2012, the Convention had 113 ratifications and 153 signatures.  On May 17, 2012, following almost three years of thorough review, the Obama Administration submitted its treaty package to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.  Over 165 disability rights organizations and 21 veterans’ service organizations support ratification of the treaty.  Senator Bob Dole, who was a champion of the Americans with Disabilities Act, was present for the vote and urged his fellow Republicans to vote in favor of the treaty.  Unfortunately, his plea along with strong Congressional and disability community support was not enough to overcome the unfounded fears raised by the opposition.