2014’s Annual AAPD Gala Fetes Sweden, Frowns on Senate

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Talila Lewis (Hearne awardee) with Claudia Gordon (Public Engagement Advisor for the Disability Community, Office of Engagement, The White House), Jason DeSilva (Hearne awardee) and Mark Perriello

The global message was ability at the AAPD Leadership Awards Gala Tuesday evening at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  Leaders from government, business, and the disability community came together to celebrate achievement, leadership, and progress in the American Association of People with Disabilities’ (AAPD) mission to promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities.

The truly international effort brought out some 21 embassy representatives — and over 40 countries represented on the Gala’s International Honorary Committee.  The Embassies of Slovenia, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Austria, Zambia, Portugal, Barbados, Afghanistan, Commonwealth of Dominica, Kenya and Republic of Benin were on hand to applaud Ambassador Björn Lyrvall as he accepted the International Ally Award for the country of Sweden.

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Mark Perriello (President, AAPD) with Fred Maahs (Chairman, AAPD Board of Directors), The Honorable Thomas Perez (Secretary of Labor) and Tony Coehlo

In 2008, Sweden ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) — as yet signed, but unratified by the US.  The Swedish government adopted a five-year plan to implement disability rights policies based on the Treaty and continues to implements policies, supports, and services work to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities, independent lives, and can fully participate in the community.

The US Senate is currently re-considering joining the 141 countries that have already ratified the Treaty.  Tuesday evening’s rejoicing was also a rally cry by the disability community, faith organizations, civil rights groups, and major businesses that are looking for the legislative body to push harder than in 2012, when it fell just five votes short of ratification.

*Above image, Danny Woodburn (Comedian) with John Register (Emcee and Associate Director, Community/Veterans Programs, U.S. Olympic Committee).  All images credit Kristin Weingold, Event Digital Photography Inc. — EDPI

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