By JIM ABRAMS (AP)
WASHINGTON — Disabilities advocates on Thursday applauded Congress for passing legislation that eliminates the term "mental retardation" from federal laws.
"Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic civil and human rights," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, an organization promoting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The measure, passed by the House by voice vote Wednesday night, changes the phrase "mentally retarded" to "an individual with an intellectual disability" in existing health, education and labor law.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., sponsor of the bill with Sen Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said it would make language in federal law consistent with that used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the health arm of the United Nations and the White House.
"This law is about families fighting for the respect and dignity of their loved ones," Mikulski said. "This change will have a positive effect on more than 6 million Americans."
"Rosa's Law," named after a Maryland girl with Down Syndrome, passed the Senate last month and now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill is S. 2781
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