Monday, June 7, 2010


Today, Senator Sweeney and Senatory Vitale's bill to cut the "r" word [retarded] from state law clears the committee. The bill claims to strip demeaning and disrespectful terms for individuals with developmental disabilities from state law.

Senate president Steve Sweeney (D) has a personal connection to this bill as his own daughter Lauren has Down's syndrome. “Quite simply, words matter,” said Sweeney. "For far too long, the words used to describe individuals with developmental disabilities have served only to marginalize these residents. The reality is that persons with disabilities contribute greatly to our society. Our laws, at the least, must recognize that.”

Co-sponsor Vitale (D) also speaks out against these terms stating, “Schoolyard pejoratives have no place in our law books." He states, “Individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities must be recognized first and foremost as people – their individual disability should not be what defines them.”

The measure (s-1982) would replace the words “mental retardation,” “mentally retarded,” “idiot,” and “feeble-minded” with “intellectual disability.” It would also update the law which deals with institutions and agencies replacing the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” with the broader terms: “developmentally disabled” and “developmental disability” to reflect the Division of Developmental Disabilities’ services for persons with developmental disabilities, not just persons with intellectual disabilities.

Today, in support of the bill families which have been effected by the wording in these laws came to the statehouse wearing shirts which crossed out the word "woRd." A unanimous committee vote helped the bill clear the committee. Now the bill will be voted on in the full Senate.

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