In New York — one of the last states to retain the word “retardation” in a department title — advocates are split on efforts to eliminate a term some consider offensive.

In the last twenty years nearly every state has removed the phrase “mental retardation” from the names of state agencies servicing those with developmental disabilities. Today, only New York and Rhode Island retain the old vocabulary. And advocates are pushing a measure through Congress, which would replace “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in some parts of federal government.

However, as New York legislators embark on their second effort in a year to alter the name of the state’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, change is not a certainty.

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Last year a similar effort stalled after passing the state Senate because some older advocates in the disability community felt that changing the department’s name to the “Developmental Disabilities Services Office” was not specific enough. Further, some worried that a name change would alter the services provided, though state officials say that’s not the case.

In large part, however, self-advocates are applauding efforts to change the name, saying that the word “retarded” is offensive. A new proposal which recently passed through committees in the state Senate and Assembly would alter the department title to”Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities,” reports The New York Times. To read more click here.

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