(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblymen Thomas P. Giblin and Albert Coutinho sponsored to remove offensive and demeaning language about people with disabilities from state laws received final legislative approval on Monday.
The bill (A-2812) delete all references in the statutes to the terms “mental retardation,” “mentally retarded,” “idiot,” and “feeble-minded” and replace them with the term “intellectual disability,” using “person-first” language. “Person-first” language is language that refers to an individual as a “person with a disability,” rather than as a “disabled person.”
It was approved 80-0 by the Assembly and now goes to the governor.
“Language used in reference to individuals with intellectual and other disabilities shapes and reflects the attitudes of society toward persons with disabilities,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Certain terms are demeaning and disrespectful, and create a barrier to the inclusion of people with intellectual and other disabilities as valued members of our community. It’s time we got rid of them for good.”
“It’s in all of our interest to ensure that the statutes and regulations of the state do not contain language that is outdated and disrespectful to persons with disabilities,” said Giblin (D-Essex). “We can do better, and with this bill, we are setting a standard that makes clear that we will do better and ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
“It’s our intent that upon enactment of this bill, all future legislation reflect this more respectful terminology,” said Coutinho (D-Essex). “This isn’t just a feel-good measure. This is a real change in how we treat each other, and one that will set an example for future generations.”
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