Respectful Language Victory in State of Washington
- Respectful Language Victory In State of Washington
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
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
"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.
"Courage and cowardice in Olympia" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
"HB 2663" (Washington State Legislature)
"People First and Self-Advocacy Links" (People First of Washington)
Forwarded to this list by:
Dave Reynolds, Editor
Inclusion Daily Express / Inclusion Weekly Review
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