When we hear the word disabilities we usually think about physical disabilities. Rosa’s Law, named for an 8-year-old Maryland girl diagnosed with Down Syndrome, gives dignity to people with intellectual disabilities allowing them to be respected and appreciated.
Rosa’s Law takes the R word, better known as “mentally retarded”, and replaces it with “intellectually disabled. Words like retard, retarded, and mentally retarded can no longer be used in federal documents when discussing a child. The bill, signed into law by President Obama, is simple in nature but profound in what it will do psychologically for those who suffer from disorders like Down Syndrome, and Autism. Illinois, as well as other states, currently have similarly legislation under consideration with regards to state documents.
For far too long we have used hurtful words like mental retardation or MR in our federal statutes to refer to those living with intellectual disabilities. While the way people feel is important, the way people are treated is equally important.
This law is in response to families fighting for the respect and dignity of their loved ones and will positively affect more than 6 million Americans. The law will make the language of federal law consistent with that used by the Centers for Disease Control and the United Nations.