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Respectful Language Victory in State of Washington

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  • Dave at Inclusion Daily Express
    Respectful Language Victory In State of Washington By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express http://www.InclusionDaily.com March 16, 2004 OLYMPIA,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 18, 2004
      Respectful Language Victory In State of Washington
      By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
      http://www.InclusionDaily.com
      March 16, 2004

      OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON--Late last Thursday, the Washington state Senate voted
      48-0 to pass HB 2663, the "Respectful Language Bill".

      The measure requires authors of Washington state laws and agency rules to
      use "people first" language when writing about people that have
      disabilities.

      "People first" language is a way of describing someone which puts the person
      ahead of his or her label. Using "people first" language, for example, an
      individual would be described as "a person with a disability" rather than "a
      disabled person" or "the disabled". The terminology has been around nearly
      as long as People First, a self-advocacy movement started by people with
      developmental disabilities in the late 1970s.

      The new law would not change language currently in the Washington
      Administrative Code (WAC) or Revised Code of Washington (RCW), but would
      apply when new laws are added or the old laws are revised. The measure
      specifically calls on authors to avoid terms such as "disabled,
      developmentally disabled, mentally disabled, mentally ill, mentally
      retarded, handicapped, cripple, and crippled".

      The state House of Representatives had voted 95-0 in support of the measure
      on February 12.

      The law signals a victory for disability rights advocates, dozens of whom
      personally lobbied for its passage. Some felt the new language was needed to
      reflect changes in how society views people with disabilities.

      "Well, this isn't the 1940s," Resa Hayes, a 14-year member of the
      self-advocacy organization People First of Washington, told me. Hayes
      testified before the Legislature for the bill's passage.

      "People with disabilities are people first -- everything else is secondary,"
      she said, echoing the organization's motto.

      Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Thomas Shapley wrote about the
      Respectful Language Bill and how it was nearly kept from going to the Senate
      floor for a vote.

      Related:
      "Courage and cowardice in Olympia" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
      http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/164569_tomcol14.html
      "HB 2663" (Washington State Legislature)
      http://www.InclusionDaily.com/news/04/red/0316c.htm
      "People First and Self-Advocacy Links" (People First of Washington)
      http://www.peoplefirstofwashington.org/links.htm

      ---
      Forwarded to this list by:
      Dave Reynolds, Editor
      Inclusion Daily Express / Inclusion Weekly Review
      International Disability Rights News Service
      News@...
      http://www.InclusionDaily.com

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