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House To Vote On Replacing ‘Mental Retardation’ With ‘Intellectual Disability’


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The House of Representatives is expected to vote as early as Wednesday evening on a bill to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of federal government.

The legislation known as Rosa’s Law was approved by the Senate in August. Under the bill, terminology would be altered in federal health, education and labor policy.

The House is widely expected to pass the measure when it is brought up later this week alongside several other bills that are considered uncontentious under a suspension of the rules. This means that there will be limited debate and a simplified voting procedure.

If Rosa’s Law does gain House approval, it will go to President Barack Obama, who supports the measure. “He looks forward to signing it into law after the House passes it,” a White House official told Disability Scoop on Monday.

Under the bill, individuals with disabilities would retain the same rights they currently have, but terminology would be swapped as laws and documents come up for revision over the next several years. As a result, Rosa’s Law is not expected to incur any cost.

Nearly all states and some federal agencies already use the term “intellectual disability.”

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Comments (4 Responses)

  1. Saara says:

    How much will changing the words mental retardation to intellectual disability cost? Better money should be allocated to end the Waiting List and Ensure Portability.

  2. ablesupport says:

    Language and the discourse of disability means a great deal, in my opinion. I just blogged on the use of the word “retard” in our modern discourse. When language becomes mainstream and accepted it makes it OK to laugh at people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Think about the use of the “N” word in the same context. The language that we deem to be acceptable shapes our mainstream discourse thereby determining how we treat those with disabilities.

  3. Twerps2 says:

    Language is important; however PEOPLE use bad language and PEOPLE make the wrong choices. If we spent 1/2 of all the time and money we spend on worrying about the text and language and used it to CHANGE PEOPLE – I personally believe it would make a bigger impact. PEOPLE can still treat my son poorly, no matter what the ‘language or text” says. Language and text don’t hurt my son, PEOPLE do. We need to focus on changing people and their perception. mental retardation is a diagnosis, just like cancer, luekemia – those are bad too – but PEOPLE don’t use those poorly and it was PEOPLE who used MR in terrible ways. Change people; change he lists -

  4. ablesupport says:

    I agree that people use bad language and make wrong choices. I guess my point is that the language we use is important and language, discourse and education are the only way that we can change people.

    The mainstream use of the word “retard” or “tard” is an example of this. I am hearing these terms used by kids, comedians etc. I am sure that no one would tolerate the open use of the “N” word in mainstream media, just ask Dr. Laura. The use of the “N” word has become socially unacceptable through education and a common belief that these words are hurtful and damaging. I suppose I am hopeful that changes in language and discourse is important.

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