Dept. of Human Services Modernizes Language about Individuals with an Intellectual Disability

HARRISBURG – The Department of Human Services (DHS) has updated language imbedded in official documents to remove words that are outdated and offensive to people with disabilities.

Terms like “mental retardation” have been changed to “intellectual disability” and “normalization” to “integration.”

The Wolf Administration has modernized language in 24 chapters of licensing regulations governing: intellectual disability and mental health programs; county programs; and the regulations for adult training centers, vocational facilities, state operated facilities, personal care homes, assisted living residences, and child residential facilities.

“This is a long overdue change that promotes respect and opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability,” DHS Secretary Ted Dallas said.

“Using the correct, modern terms reflects people’s strengths and abilities. Governor Wolf and I realize the importance of affording persons with intellectual disabilities the same opportunities for professional and personal fulfillment that everyone else has.”

This year Gov. Tom Wolf also signed Executive Order 2016-03 – Establishing Employment First Policy and Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Pennsylvanians with a Disability.

He also signed into law the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (PA ABLE) that enables the creation of tax-exempt savings accounts specifically for people with qualified disabilities and their families.

“This change is a long time coming, but I’m glad that now we have adopted language that expresses dignity and regard for people,” Secretary Dallas said.


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