VAINIERI HUTTLE, GIBLIN, COUTINHO, BURZICHELLI & GREENWALD BILL TO DELETE OFFENSIVE REFERENCES TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES NOW LAW

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Thomas P. Giblin, Albert Coutinho, John Burzichelli and Lou Greenwald sponsored to remove demeaning language about people with disabilities from state statute was signed into law Monday.
The bill (A-2812) deletes all references in laws 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.”
“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“It’s in all of our interest to ensure that the statutes and regulations of the state do not contain language that is outdated and disrespectful to persons with disabilities,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “We can do better, and with this new law, we are setting a standard that makes clear that we will do better and ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
“All future laws will now 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.”
“This is a big step toward a more caring society for everyone,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “The days of using offensive and demeaning language in official state documents are thankfully over.”
“This law makes clear that using insulting language about persons with a disability is unacceptable and a thing of the past,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “We can do better, and with this law, we will do better.”
The bill passed the Senate 38-0 and the Assembly 80-0 in June. It was signed Monday by Gov. Chris Christie.