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Lawmakers Move To Strike ‘Mental Retardation’ Language From Phila. Laws

(Kathy Foy, left, and Matt Aaron, right, testifying before City Council.  Images from City of Phila. TV)

(Kathy Foy, left, and Matt Aaron, right, testifying before City Council. Images from City of Phila. TV)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council today took a step toward eliminating the phrase “mental retardation” from the city’s laws and regulations.

The federal government made this change in 2010, then Harrisburg followed suit a year later.

Now, a Philadelphia City Council committee has voted to remove the phrase mental retardation from the city code and replace it with the phrase intellectual disability.

Kathy Foy, of the group Vision for Equality (left photo), said the phrase mental retardation is an anachronism:

“This word, like many others that refer to a person or a group of people in a dehumanizing way must end in official documents and laws, like such words as ‘idiot’ and ‘feeble-minded’ had been removed in the past.”

Matt Aaron, president of Special Olympics Pennsylvania (right photo), testified that the disabled don’t want special treatment, just equal treatment.

“When terminology such as ‘retard’ and ‘retardation’ is prevalent is out there, it puts up a barrier, it puts up an obstacle, it gets in the way of them being an equal participant or having those opportunities,” he said.

The committee approved the change and sent it to the full Council for a final vote next month.


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