President Lauds Girl Behind ‘Rosa’s Law’
President Barack Obama publicly honored Rosa Marcellino at the White House Friday, days after signing a bill carrying her name which will strip the term “mental retardation” from some areas of federal law.
The measure known as Rosa’s Law will replace the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” with “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability” throughout federal health, education and labor policy. It was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., after she met Marcellino, 9, and her family who lobbied for a similar bill in Maryland last year.
On Friday, Marcellino, who has Down syndrome, attended a ceremony in the East Room of the White House with her family where the president referred to her as “inspiring.”
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“This may seem to some people like a minor change, but I think Rosa’s brother Nick put it best,” Obama told a crowd of advocates and supporters. “He said, ‘What you call people is how you treat them. If we change the words, maybe it will be the start of a new attitude towards people with disabilities.’ That’s a lot of wisdom from Nick.”
In addition to honoring the passage of Rosa’s Law, the president signed legislation during the event which will increase access to technology for those with special needs. The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act will require closed captioning to be included on television programs that are viewed online and it calls for improved accessibility features on smart phones, among other changes.