Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on a Briefing by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas Agui

Gregory McElwain
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 22, 2018


The United States appreciates Special Rapporteur Devandas Aguilar’s work to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly the work that supports independent living and autonomy for disabled persons.

Promoting, protecting, and advancing human rights – including the rights of persons with disabilities – is a policy priority of the United States. We believe all people should be afforded the ability to be full members of their community through civic, social and economic participation.

Globally, persons with disabilities experience higher poverty rates, discrimination, and significant barriers to affordable housing, transportation, education, and employment.

The United States advances a rights-based approach to disability, where we recognize that persons with disabilities deserve the same dignity and freedoms to live autonomous and independent lives.

In the United States, businesses recognize that hiring employees with disabilities brings new creativity, innovation, and skills that strengthen their businesses, increase competition, and drive innovation.

This year the United States celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Architectural Barriers Act. This law laid the foundation for accessibility standards requiring public and private entities to be accessible, so that persons with disabilities can lead fully independent lives in their communities.

There is still a long way to go for countries to adopt a rights-based view of persons with disabilities, including when considering employment and education. What recommendations do you have for Member States, civil society, DPOs, and UN agencies to truly shift our conversation from the medical/charity model to the rights based view of disability?