Local
1:22 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Goodbye “Mentally Retarded,” Hello “Intellectual Disabilities”

One of two bills introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature to replace the words "mental retardation" with "intellectual disabilities" will come up for a vote today in the House Human Services Committee.

The move, which lawmakers say gives more respect to people with disabilities, comes after similar legislation was passed at the federal level last year. Similar laws have also been passed in more than half of the fifty states. It has also been passed at the county and municipal level throughout Pennsylvania.

State Senator Andrew Dinniman, from Chester County proposed Senate Bill 458.

Dinniman's proposed legislation would change the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966. All other state laws that stem from that one would automatically change. The law would also apply to entities that receive state funding.

Maureen Westcott, Public Policy Advocate the Arc of Pennsylvania said these proposals reflect changes in our society.

"We don't refer to people with other issues. We don't say a cancerous person. Disability is not what defines a person. They are a person and then they allow themselves to be labeled in different ways for different reasons," she said.

State Representative Jake Wheatley (D-Pittsburgh) introduced similar legislation.