PI-GRO Applauds the Enactment of Rosa's Law

In late 2010, President Obama signed S. 2781 into law. This initiative, also known as Rosa's Law, changed the way federal law refers to persons with mental disabilities. Within federal health, labor and education policy, "mental retardation" is now referred to as "intellectual disability." Additionally, references in federal law to a "mentally retarded individual" will now refer to an "individual with an intellectual disability."

Rosa's Law is named after Rosa Marcellino, a young girl from Edgewater, Md., with Down Syndrome. Rosa's family began their journey when the coding on Rosa's individual education plan was changed from "health impaired" to "mentally retarded" by her elementary school. Once used as a medical term, the word "retarded" has now become a slang word with negative connotations that many find derogatory and stigmatizing. Rosa's family successfully petitioned the school to have their daughter's coding designation changed, and then advocated for the successful replacement of such terms in the Health and Education code in their home state of Maryland.

PI-GRO has been working with our colleagues in Division 33 on such changes in terminology. We thank Congress and the Obama Administration for working together on this important law. Disability and mental health advocates hope that changing the language used to describe persons with disabilities will lead to changes in the way that persons with intellectual disabilities are perceived in society, with the final goal being greater understanding and respect.