Ohio Makes Move to Outlaw R-Word in State Law


One state is making moves to remove the R-word from language in state law.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday to remove references to “mental retardation” from state law and replace the phrase with terminology such as “intellectual disability.”

The bill, HB 158, was a bipartisan effort and, after being passed on a vote of 95-0, will now head to the Ohio State Senate for further consideration.

Other similar changes have been made in Ohio in recent years, according to the Alliance Review. Lawmakers have removed terms like “idiot,” “imbecile” and “drunkard,” because the meanings and stigmas associated with such terms have changed over time. Recently, the legislature also removed “retardation” from state and county agency names.

In 2010, President Obama officially signed bill S. 2781,Rosa’s Law, into federal law, removing the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replacing them with people-first language like “individual with an intellectual disability,” according to Spread The Word To End The Word, an ongoing campaign by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and other supporters to eliminate the use of the “R” word.

In addition to passing legislation that promotes inclusive language, many states have offered an annual proclamation to help bring attention to the mission of Spread the Word to End the Word, including California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.

Both Indiana and Texas have passed respectful language bills into law which are similar to Ohio’s. Texas passed one in May of 2011 and Indiana passed one in July 2015 to unanimous support in the general assembly.

As we learn more about those with disabilities and we work towards making Ohio a better and more responsive state for the developmentally disabled in our communities, our laws should reflect that collective wisdom,” Rep. Jonathan Dever, one of the sponsors of the bill said, according to the Statehouse News Bureau.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Disability

To the Person Who Parked in Between the Handicapped Spots

Dear Sir in the Honda Accord, You’ve illegally parked and stolen not one but two handicapped parking spots. By parking in the bright yellow crossed-out section of pavement, you’ve blocked off accessibility for anyone who needs to remove medical equipment from their vehicle. Those lines you wedged your sedan into are there so disabled individuals [...]

Restaurant's Unisex Bathroom Sign Has Disability Community Talking

A sign posted in the bathroom of a pizza place in Charlotte, North Carolina, has earned the restaurant praise on social media. Juli Ghazi, the owner of Pure Pizza in Plaza Midwood, posted a sign in her restaurant’s unisex bathroom about five months ago saying it’s available for people in the LGBTQ community, single fathers with [...]
a man in a wheelchair in front of an airplane on a landing strip

To the Person Adjusting to a New Life of Disability

“No, that will never happen to me.” I carried this thought with me for 23 years. It was an expectation of invincibility, a belief that I was immune to everything except the common cold. Just two weeks after my 23rd birthday, that invincibility shield was shattered into a million pieces. A high speed motor vehicle [...]
An upclose profile photo of a girl with short hair and bangs

When You Are New to Life With a Disability

I am new to this life with a disability. Sometimes I am caught so off guard by the way people respond to me now, be it positive or negative. Many times I don’t know how to react in an appropriate way. Interactions become awkward and forced. People become uncomfortable in my presence, and sometimes it [...]