A key piece of legislation that affects the disabled community was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this past Thursday. Senate Bill S7132, sponsored by Sen. Robert G. Ortt (R), amends Article 17-A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, entitled “Guardians of Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Disabled Persons,” to end all use of “mentally retarded,” “mental retardation” and “office or commissioner of mental retardation.”The language will be replaced with the terms “intellectually disabled,” “intellectual disabilities” and “office or commissioner for people with developmental disabilities.” The new language is a more appropriate way to address those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and will take effect immediately.

The passing of this bill shows the efforts made by disability advocates to improve the way we communicate with those with disabilities have paid off.

Brad Gerstman, an advocate for the disabled said:

“Fellow disability advocates and myself are pleased that Gov. Cuomo passed this bill to eliminate the use of inappropriate, offensive language regarding those in the disabled community. It should be acknowledged that they are an important part of our society, especially when it comes to the law, and not be treated as second-class citizens.”