Hospitals & Asylums    




Towards a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities HA-19-10-06
1. 600 million people in the world are disabled as a consequence of mental, physical or sensory impairment, 80% in developing nations.  
43 million Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities, and this number is increasing as the population as a whole is 
growing older.  Treating disability involves the prevention of disability, rehabilitation and the realization of the goals of ''full participation'' 
of disabled persons in social life and development, and of ''equality''.  As the result of their special needs and the perception that they are 
vulnerable the disabled tend to suffer from a pattern of discrimination and are frequent victims of abuse and exploitation.  Census data, 
national polls, and other studies have documented that people with disabilities, as a group, occupy an inferior status in our society, and are 
severely disadvantaged socially, vocationally, economically, and educationally.  Proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to 
assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for such individuals.  

2. The UN Enable program reports that, the International Day of Disabled Persons is 3 December.  Every year there is a different theme, this 2006 it is e-accessibility.  The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.  Access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities for everyone in society, but perhaps no-more so than for persons with disabilities. No longer do the societal barriers of prejudice, infrastructure, and inaccessible formats stand in the way of participation. When available to everyone, information technologies foster individuals to reach their full potential, and for persons with disabilities it allows them to play their part in society’s development.

3. The Department of Labor run Disability Info program reports that, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we pay tribute to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep America's economy strong, and we underscore our commitment to ensuring equal employment opportunity for all of our citizens.  In proclaiming October as National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month, President Bush said: "In 2001, my Administration announced the New Freedom Initiative to build on the progress of the ADA and more fully integrate men and women with disabilities into all aspects of life. The New Freedom Initiative has helped to expand access to technology, training, and education for citizens with disabilities. As a result, those who have a disability and seek employment are better able to compete for jobs." 

4. The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.  An estimated 75% of disability stems from the diagnosis of mental disability.  Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.  The term "qualified individual with a disability" means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. 

5. The term “reasonable accommodation” means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  It can mean job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.  “Universal design” and “inclusive design” mean the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

6. The term “discrimination on the basis of disability” means any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. It includes all forms of discrimination, including denial of reasonable accommodation, service or employment including limiting, segregating, or classifying a job applicant or employee in a way that adversely affects the opportunities or status of such applicant or employee because of the disability of such applicant or employee.

7. Discrimination on the basis of disability is most pervasive in cases of mental illness where the disability is often discrimination alone.  Discrimination is however disabling and when it persists leads to long-term poverty and exclusion of individuals.  Disability fits the mold of corruption where an entity seeks to maintain an unfair advantage thereby disabling their adversaries.  Mental illness is a real problem that can treated with psychiatric counseling and drugs however abusive and unnecessary hospitalization continues to be a serious organized crime with serious consequences for those who have born witness.  The problem goes further in that people who have recovered from mental illness are skilled at debunking popular (powerful) myths and constantly find themselves in conflict with institutional nonsense that retaliates against them for their special ability.  Mental illness should be a temporary problem but often leads to a life of poverty, isolation and victimization that we classify as disabled. 

8. Historically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and, despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continues to be a serious and pervasive social problem.  Until recently the disabled have had no legal recourse with which to redress such discrimination.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352) as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-166) all personnel actions affecting employees or applicants for employment with the federal government including those paid from nonappropriated funds shall be made free from any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has the authority to enforce appropriate remedies, including reinstatement or hiring of employees with or without back pay and shall, target individuals who historically have been victims of employment discrimination and have not been equitably served. 

9. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112) prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating 
against and requires affirmative action for qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. Section 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive federal financial 
assistance and in federally conducted programs. Amendments under the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 and Rehabilitation Act 
Amendments of 1992 (Pub. L. 102-559) permit government sponsored entities to invalidate the disability defense in circumstances 
regarding illicit drug and alcohol abuse.  Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) prohibits discrimination against 
qualified individuals with disabilities. 
10. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (S.939) opened the door to a new age for people with disabilities by establishing a 
comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.  The plan is to reduce barriers to people with disabilities, ensure 
that all Americans have the opportunity to learn and to develop skills, to engage in productive work, to choose where to live, and to 
participate in community life. This effort will allow America to draw on the talents and creativity of all its citizens.  Title I of the 
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers of 15 or more workers, employment agencies, and labor organizations 
of 15 or more workers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act 
(ADA) prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in programs, activities, 
and services.

11. The current legislative effort in this field is to draft a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.  After several years of work the Ad hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities Eighth session in New York on 14-25 August 2006 produced a Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The convention recognizes that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person, that there is a diversity of people with disabilities and that there is a need to promote and protect the human rights of all persons with disabilities, including those who require more intensive support.  People with disabilities must have the freedom to make their own choices and be enabled to enjoy full access to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication, so as to fully enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

12. The right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions is typically ensured by social security insurance.  Appropriate steps however need to be taken to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.  Social security insurance is irrational in regards to poverty and the entire program for people under retirement age discriminates upon the basis of disability.  The reliance upon medical diagnosis and treatment record is a breech of the confidentiality of medical records and creates a system that is left of center and should be correlated with that person’s income records.  Whereas social security does indeed provide for their beneficiaries’ livelihoods it is difficult to implicate the agency in impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of the right to an adequate standard of living the fact that undiagnosed poor people go without government assistance indicates that financial assistance for the poor disabled people is not being administrated on an equal basis with others.  The constant bickering that results from this deception has been remedied in the US so that the disability provisions are inapplicable should benefit rights be impaired under 42USC(7)II§420, however the critical issue regarding the poverty line remains a mystery.  The Draft Convention makes no mention of disability insurance and social security a leading source of income for disabled people and their economic safety net.

13. August 2006 marked the 50th Anniversary of Disability Insurance in the USA dated to the 1956 Amendments to the Social Security Act establishing the Social Security Disability Insurance program of August 1, 1956.  On every day that Social Security offices are open, more than 6,000 new claims for Disability Insurance are filed throughout the nation. That is over a million and a half applications each year. As of July of this year, monthly benefits were being paid from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund to 8.4 million individuals including 6.7 million disabled workers and 1.7 million of their dependent family members, primarily minor children. The number of disabled workers as a percentage of insured workers rose from 2.5 percent in 1990 to 3.3 percent in 1995 to 3.8 percent in 2005. The average monthly check for people receiving disability insurance is $939.  The Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984 established the contemporary concept of disability determination that made it easier to claim mental disability.  Anybody who is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months is eligible for Disability insurance under 42USC(7)II§423. 

14. The right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market.  A work environment should be open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.  Discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement, and safe and healthy working conditions are prohibited.  The rights of persons with disabilities to just and favorable conditions of work, shall be on an equal basis with others, including equal opportunities, such as union membership and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redressing of grievances.  Disabled people shall be employed in both the public and private sector.  Disabled persons shall have access to vocational and professional rehabilitation programs.  State Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not held in slavery or in servitude, and are protected, on an equal basis with others, from forced or compulsory labor.

15. The information age has created two campaigns for people with disabilities.  First, access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities to everyone in society, but perhaps no-more so than for persons with disabilities, who have the time and ability to produce well reasoned research reports when the rest of society drives off with their cell phones.  When available to everyone, information technologies foster individuals to reach their full potential, and for persons with disabilities it allows them to play their part in society’s development.  According to the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy, the percentage of college graduates deemed proficient in prose literacy and the production of documents has actually declined from 40 to 31 percent in the past decade.  Society therefore demands that the housebound disabled people do the research for the rest of a society that is increasingly illiterate.  The other side of this problem is that the government and corporations are obviously not paying for the documents supplied and in fact engage in senseless retaliation against the superior literacy that seizes control of society.  Second, many persons with disabilities remain unable to take full advantage of the Internet as most websites are: inaccessible to the blind and visually impaired, heavily dependent on using the mouse, and training is often conducted in inaccessible formats and venues.  As persons with disabilities are amongst the most marginalized in society, many do not have access to information technologies at all.  The State will need to take much greater responsibility for paying the author’s of legitimate research and fostering the spread of computers and information technology.

16. The right of persons with disabilities to education shall be granted without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity to an inclusive, education system at all levels, and life-long learning.  Education is important for the full development of the human potential and sense of dignity and self worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity.  The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential requires access to a decent education that can take into consideration any special needs they might have.  States shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary and secondary education on the basis of disability.  States shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including those with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and Braille.

17.  Health is particularly important for disabled people whose entire status is reliant upon the diagnosis of a mental or physical disorder.  Persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.  The Draft Convention fails to achieve these standards and becomes confused by trying to provide health care without discrimination on the basis of disability although in the provision of health care it is important that people receive the best treatment for their disability.  Furthermore the violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation needs to be linked to the health professionals who must speak openly about these endemic behavioral problems rather than in metaphorical screams of rape that emit from the Draft Convention.  To prevent crime, organized or random, programs serving the disabled shall provide information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances of exploitation, violence and abuse.  In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.  Appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse, including protection services, shall be provided.  Legislation and policies shall identify, investigate and when appropriate prosecute instances of violence, abuse and exploitation against people with disabilities.

18. Young people, particularly girls, who are disabled, are particularly vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, over 500,000 children in the U.S. currently reside in some form of foster care as of last year.  An average of 20,000 children age out every year.  For the children in foster care on September 30, 2004, the average amount of time they had been in the system was 30 months. 29 percent of children leaving care in 2004 had been away from home for a year or longer. 53 percent of the young people leaving the system were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.  About 30 percent of children in foster care have severe emotional, behavioral, or developmental problems.  Many children in foster care, often at an extremely young age, are forced to consume psychiatric drugs, often in large quantities, irregardless of the harmful side effects that they suffer.  In Florida, for example, foster kids younger than 5 years old were treated with psychiatric medications at a rate nearly four times higher than the general population of children receiving Medicaid.  The foster care system clearly needs to protect itself from the psychiatric drug industry by remaining vigilant to unnecessary and excessive medication with an eye for discontinuing this form of abuse and exploitation and prosecuting cases that meet the threshold of violence and those organizations and groups of psychiatrists who are inundating the foster care community with drugs and profit sharing plans by terminating licenses and contracts. 

19. The disabled and elderly are extremely vulnerable to abuse by their health care providers and medical errors and oversights are a leading cause of avoidable death.  In the 2003 report on Death by Medicine in the USA the authors found that the number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is 2.2 million. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million. The total number of iatrogenic, medically caused, deaths is estimated at 783,936. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States. The 2001 heart disease annual death rate is 699,697; the annual cancer death rate, 553,251.  It is estimated that in 2003 106,000 people died of Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR), 98,000 from medical errors, 115,000 from bedsores, 88,000 from infections contracted in hospitals, 108,800 from malnutrition, 199,000 from neglect as outpatients, 37,136 from unnecessary procedures and 32,000 from surgery related complications.  Iatrogenic events often go unreported.  At 14 percent of the Gross National Product, health care spending in the US reached $1.6 trillion in 2003, the most in the world. Considering this enormous expenditure, we should have the best medicine in the world. We should be reversing disease, preventing disease, and doing minimal harm. However, careful and objective review shows the opposite – medicine is extremely dangerous.  The medical establishment needs to refocus from making money, often dishonestly, to assuring everyone has the best chance for a long and healthy life.

20. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition and is of particular concern to disabled persons.  The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.  The terms ''medicine'' and ''medical'', include preventive and therapeutic medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, hospitalization, nursing, public health, and the fundamental sciences related thereto, and other related fields of study, research, or activity.  Health care should be supportive of public health, by promoting both access to existing medicines and research and development into new medicines.  Health policy should focus upon the elimination of hunger and malnutrition and the guarantee of the right to proper nutrition and the raising of general standards of literacy, in order to achieve the highest standards of health and the provision of health protection for the entire population, if possible free of charge.  Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of disease, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.  Healthy development of the child is of basic importance; the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment, nutrition and vaccinations are essential to such development.  Strategies for training, recruitment and retention of sufficient public health personnel, and systems of prevention and of immunization against infectious diseases, reinforce measures to eliminate discrimination in access to health care, information and education for all people, especially for the most underserved and vulnerable groups. 


21. Social security should be administrated with a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people to achieve: Higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; Solutions of economic, social, health, and related problems; and cultural and educational co-operation; and Universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion or disability.  Everyone has a right to social security, including social insurance. Each State Party undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights. The provision of comprehensive social security schemes and social welfare services is accomplished with the establishment and improvement of social security and insurance schemes for all persons who, because of illness, disability or old age, are temporarily or permanently unable to earn a living, with a view to ensuring a proper standard of living for such persons and for their families and dependants; by (a) assuring the right to work and the right of everyone to form trade union and bargain collectively, (b) eliminating hunger and malnutrition, (c) eliminating poverty, (d) upholding the highest standards of health, (e) providing housing for low income people.  Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to its realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for their dignity and the free development of their personality.


22. For the Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to reach its conclusion the Ad Hoc Committee will need to address the issues of health and social security.  In so doing the Committee will need to delve further into the history of disability law to arrive at the establishment of the social security insurance schemes protecting the disabled and the principles regarding health in the Constitution of the World Health Organization as well as contemporary treaties upon the subject of health.  Social security is too important for the disabled for the Draft Convention to omit reference to this economic safety net for the poor who retire or become disabled that includes coverage for their health care.  Social security is the international standard for the provision of welfare and relief to disabled people and is so important as an institution and a right that social security requires an entire Article in the Draft Convention.  Health is similarly important for disabled people, whereas their entire status is derived from the medical diagnosis of a physical or mental disability, and the current article is unsatisfactory the Constitution of WHO and health treaties must be scoured for the language that most conveys the information needed to provide for the right to the highest attainable standard of health, as done in this article.  Whereas health and social security are the establishments with which the disabled have the most vested interest it is conceivable that entrenched interests there from could be a hassle for the Ad hoc Committee however they are mostly benevolent so corruption should not be a grave problem for legislators.  When the issues of health and social security law edit themselves, it would seem that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would be done.


Works Cited

Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ad hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. Eighth session. New York. 14-25 August 2006  

UN Enable

Disability Info

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352) as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-166)

Sections 503 & 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112) as amended by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 (Pub. L. 102-559)

Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (S.939)

Disability Provisions Inapplicable If Benefit Rights Impaired 42USC(7)II§420

Eligibility for Disability Insurance 42USC(7)II§423

Kearney, John R. US Social Security Administration Office of Policy. Social Security and the "D" in OASDI: The History of a Federal Program Insuring Earners Against Disability. Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 66 No. 3, 2005/2006

Secretary Spelling. Announced Plans for More Affordable, Accessible, Accountable and Consumer-Friendly U.S. Higher Education System on 26 September 2006

Constitution of the World Health Organization ratified July 22, 1946

Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health, adopted on 14 November 2001

Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD.  Death by Medicine. 2003

MindFreedom International. Fostering Drug Use? CBS. 18 October 2006

Art. 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 2200A(XXI)(1966) 
Art. 10 & 11 of the Declaration on Social Progress and Development 2542 (XXIV) 1969 
Art. 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 217 A (III) (1948) 

UN General Assembly Resolution Implementing the World Program of Action concerning Disabled Persons of 26 January 2006

Article 55 of the UN Charter