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Jessica Cox Takes Flight to Honor Americans With Disabilities Act

Jessica Cox, the world’s first person without arms certified to fly an airplane, takes off July 17, 2020, from Tucson, headed to Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The highlight of the commemoration will be her flight with retired Iowa Senator Tom Harkin in her Ercoupe, N26R, from Fredrick, Maryland, north of Washington, D.C., on July 24.

Cox, who shares her life story as a motivational speaker and disability rights advocate, is also using this opportunity to call attention to the fact that the U.S. has yet to join the international community in ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). The only international treaty of its kind, the CRPD follows the model of the ADA and establishes protections and rights of people with disabilities worldwide.

The event is meant to bring renewed attention to the ongoing impact of the ADA, the United States’ reluctance to ratify the CRPD, and to lift spirits at a time when the country is steeped in challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and more, Cox notes.

Cox earned her certification as a sport pilot in 2008, an achievement that earned her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person without arms to do so.

In 2005, she began speaking professionally as a motivational speaker. Since then, she has visited more than 20 countries for speaking events. She also advocates for international disability rights as the Goodwill Ambassador for the NGO Humanity & Inclusion.