Thursday, February 26, 2009

Alabama agency closer to dropping MR from its name

From The Tuscaloosa News:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Department of Mental Health and Retardation wants to change its name to the Department of Mental Health.

The House Government Operations Committee complied with the request Feb. 25 and approved a bill to change the name. The legislation also would change various terms describing disabilities to newer terminology.

The bill almost passed the House and Senate last year, said sponsor Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne.

“One thing we’re looking at is the constitution had demeaning terminology and now we’re changing it intentionally,” Davis said. He said the term “mental retardation” has negative connotations and can be used in a derogatory way.

The bill also would change the term mentally retarded to “people with an intellectual disability.”

“Professional practice around the country has replaced the term ‘mentally retarded’ to reflect work with people with ‘intellectual disabilities’,” according to a statement from Davis.

Davis said the bill does not change or alter eligibility for any program or service. He said 43 states have changed the names of their agencies to delete older terminology.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.