Special Education

The United Nations Treaty on Disabilities and Special Education

By Christina A. Samuels — August 05, 2009 1 min read
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Jim Gerl, who writes at the Special Education Law Blog, has a recent post about President Obama signing the United NationsConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last week. (The Senate still has to ratify the convention before it would apply to this country.)

Gerl asks:

...I am wondering whether this treaty might be argued as additional authority in special education due process hearings in the U.S.... ...Article 24 deals more directly with education and states that countries "... are to ensure equal access to primary and secondary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning. Education is to employ the appropriate materials, techniques and forms of communication. Pupils with support needs are to receive support measures, and pupils who are blind, deaf and deaf-blind are to receive their education in the most appropriate modes of communication from teachers who are fluent in sign language and Braille.

My response to his blog post was that there is already a provision in the regulations accompanying the Individuals with Disabilites Education Act that says parents and teachers must consider teaching Braille and sign language to students who are blind or deaf. The treaty appears to state that students must be taught Braille and sign language, not that those modes of communication should merely be “considered.”

But I’m not sure that there would be a way to enforce this. Any thoughts?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.