By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — Massachusetts six years ago renamed its former Department of Mental Retardation and should now take the next step and wipe the words “handicapped persons” from the state’s laws, according to a state representative from Somerville.
“It’s an offensive and antiquated word,” Rep. Denise Provost told the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities on Tuesday.
Striking the word handicapped from the books is just as important as renaming the former DMR as the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), according to Provost, whose bill (H 121) runs for 21 pages and repeatedly inserts “persons with disabilities” to replace “handicapped.”
In 2010, a year after the department’s name was changed, Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a follow-up bill replacing the words “mental retardation” with “intellectual disabilities or disability” in the Massachusetts General Laws.
The Provost bill also addresses what she called other “antiquated aspects” of the state’s laws, ensuring that state laws are “no less protective” than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, including in the areas of employment and Architectural Access Board standards. “Our laws are now out of sync with federal law,” she said.