Senate Passes Archaic Language Bill Addressing Persons with Disabilities

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate today passed S.2594, An Act eliminating archaic language pertaining to individuals with disabilities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts¸ filed by Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville).

The bill updates the language used for persons with disabilities by changing words in current laws such as “handicapped” to “persons with a disability” and “mentally retarded” to “individuals with a developmental or intellectual disability.”

“When describing her daughter, one Massachusetts resident wrote, ‘Maggie is a person first. Her disabilities are part, not all, of Maggie.’ Individuals with disabilities are people first, and I’m pleased the Senate has taken action,” said Senator Jehlen.

When most disability rights laws were written, the word “handicap” was most commonly used to describe persons with disabilities and “mentally retarded” was used frequently. Both have developed a negative connotation. This bill modernizes Massachusetts laws by bringing terminology up to date.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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