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"Rosa's Law" Makes Its Way to Texas

With the president’s signing of “Rosa’s Law” last fall, the term “mental retardation” is out, and “intellectual disability” is in, when it comes to language in federal statutes. What’s next? Other states following suit. States are now drafting versions that apply to their own agencies and legislation. In the Texas legislature, Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, recently authored House Bill 1481, calling for the use of respectful language in reference to individuals with disabilities. According to Truitt, hurtful language (such as “disabled,” “mentally ill,” “handicapped” and “crippled”) will be replaced by people-first language such as “persons with disabilities.” The legislature and the Texas Education Agency are among a number of groups that will comply, and the implications are profound: “It will be very important to see the leaders of our state assume the first responsibility for using respectful language,” adds Mike Bright, executive director for Arc of Texas. Just remember, that means you, too, have an example to set.