Neb. lawmakers may drop term 'mental retardation'

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm •  Published: February 20, 2013
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Several disability advocates joined Redding to testify in support of the bill, saying the continued use of the term is demeaning and that it's time for Nebraska to stop using it. No one testified in opposition to the bill.

Redding and Coash said making the change would be a great sign of state support of those with disabilities.

Jodi Fenner, director of the Department of Health and Human Services division of developmental disabilities, said keeping mental retardation as an acceptable clinical term encourages youth and others to continue using it.

"They are people just like you and I that deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," Fenner said.

Marla Fischer-Lempke , executive director for the Arc of Nebraska, said her organization, which advocates for people with developmental disabilities, supports the bill. Fischer-Lempke said she can personally relate to the issue, saying it hurt her whole family when anyone would call her younger sister, who has Down Syndrome, retarded.

"I know it seems like an act of political correctness to change the term, but it means much more than that," she said. "It's about social justice. It's about human rights."

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The bill is LB343.



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