Governor Rick Scott Signs Intellectual Disabilities Bill Into Law And Helps End The R-Word In Florida Senate Bill 142 Passed Unanimously In Florida LegislatureAug 29th, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Community News
Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 142, the Intellectual Disabilities Bill, into law today in Tallahassee. The bill, which was passed unanimously by the Florida Legislature in April, removes the phrase “mental retardation” from state statutes and replaces it with “intellectual disabilities.” “I hate that word,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, a self-advocate from Spring Hill, who has greatly suffered from people calling her “retard.” A group of kids once threw rocks at her and she has never forgotten it. O’Brien was relieved to learn that Senate Bill 142 will officially become law on July 1. “I’m glad he signed it. That makes me very happy.” The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, spent three years working to pass the Intellectual Disabilities Bill. Senate Bill 142 was sponsored by Sen. Thad Altman (R-Melbourne.) The House version of the bill, House Bill 1119, was sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach.) “Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature are to be commended for taking a stand against the R-word,” said Michele Poole, president of The Arc of Florida. “This is a significant step forward in the fight to end bullying against people with intellectual disabilities.” “Mental retardation” was once considered a valid medical term, but over the years, it was twisted into a hurtful slang word that promotes negative stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and American Psychiatric Association changed their official diagnoses from “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability.” Federal health, education and labor policy statutes were changed in 2010 when Congress unanimously passed and President Obama signed “Rosa’s Law.” The Social Security Administration recently announced its intent to make the change to its official “Listing of Impairments.” For more information on the End the R-word in Florida campaign, visit http://www.norword.org/. The Arc Big Bend played a role in this bill being passed with one of our own testifying at the Capitol numerous times to discuss his perspective why this word should end. Last Thursday, in Orlando, there was a ceremonial bill signing in which Derrick Snead was invited to attend. We are proud of Derrick and all of the folks we serve to stand up and ask for what is right. We are also proud of the support we receive from the citizens of Madison and surrounding counties.
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