Inclusive Society for All : How Thailand shares the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(Photo credit: Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand)
Promoting the rights of persons with disabilities is one of the core values Thailand shares with the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a cornerstone of the U.S.’ law that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, which reaches its 25th anniversary on July 26 this year, resonates very well with Thailand’s policy to support disability rights.
On July 20 at the White House’s East Room, President Obama honored those who made the ADA “the law of the land” for Americans with disabilities. Secretary of State John Kerry also proclaimed that the day he cast his vote for the Act was one of his proudest days as a United States Senator, and that the Act is important internationally.
Thailand shares this noble cause and have worked towards creating an inclusive society where persons with disabilities can live with dignity. The Persons with Disabilities Empowerment Act of 2007 and the Persons with Disabilities Education Act of 2008 serve as comprehensive laws for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The two Acts are also in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Thailand is a party since 2008.
(Photo credit: Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities)
Examples of Thailand’s policy initiatives are: provision of a “Disabilities Allowance” per month to all registered persons with disabilities; the Regulation on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities, which requires public and private organizations to hire persons with disabilities at a ratio of 1 disabled person to every 100 employees; and provision of sign language service to facilitate access to various social services. (Photo credit: Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities)
At the regional level, Thailand plays host to the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD). Thailand also convened the Asia-Pacific Consultation on a Disability-inclusive Development Agenda towards 2015 and Beyond in May 2013, in cooperation with Australia, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the World Bank and the APCD.
(Photo credit: UNESCAP)
Thailand is also proud of having Thai persons with disabilities promote the “voice of the voiceless” at the international level. Senator Monthian Buntan of Thailand, born with visual impairment, was elected to serve in the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from 2013-1016. He is a founder and Secretary-General of the Thai Blind People’s Foundation. He played a leading role in drafting the 2007 Persons with Disabilities Empowerment Act and the 2008 Education Act for Persons with Disabilities to promote educational and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Senator Buntan was also Thailand’s representative at the UN Ad-Hoc Committee for the elaboration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability from 2003 – 2006.
on 2 April 2015, Congresswoman Ladda Tammy Duckworth joins Thais in wishing Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn happy 5th cycle (60th birthday anniversary).
In the United States Congress, Congresswoman Ladda Tammy Duckworth, who is half Thai and was born in Thailand, is a strong advocate for veteran affairs. She was re-elected to represent Illinois’ 8th Congressional District in 2014 and was sworn in for her second term on January 6, 2015.
As a small but hopefully impactful step in contributing to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, the Royal Thai Embassy welcomed students with disabilities from the Kennedy School of Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. on July 28, 2015. The students learned about Thailand’s rich culture through a briefing and a lunch featuring authentic Thai cuisine.