New law on addressing intellectually disabled

'R-word' eliminated in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Millions of Americans have an intellectual disability. For years they were known as living with mental retardation.

A new law in Florida is changing that. A push three years ago finally removed the "R-word" in the state.

Brittany Norman, 23, works like most other adults in America. Her hard work is also helping put an end to stigmas for people who are intellectually disabled.

"One of my friends called me retard. I told the teacher about them to stop," said Norman. "So I told him, 'Do not say the 'R-word' or I'll tell the teacher.'"

The Arc, a group for people living with intellectual disabilities, has worked to change the stigma by eliminating the "R-word." The organization says the word was outdated and offensive.

"It's really a matter of respect," said Deborah Linton, of The Arc. "There's a long history in this field with different types of diagnostic labels."

The group lead by example three years ago by changing its name from the Association for Retarded Citizens to the Arc of Florida.

For three years, advocates have been trying to change the wording of the law. This year, with the help from people living with intellectual disabilities, it passed unanimously.

Norman met with lawmakers this past legislative session to share stories she endured growing up.

Her work helps make Florida the 40th state in the nation to remove the word "retarded" from all of its state laws.

President Barack Obama signed a similar law called Rosa's law in 2010 removing the "R-word" in federal policy.

"I'm ecstatic we've now joined the rank of the rest of the states, and say with respect, we want everyone included in our society," Linton said.

Even though their condition may not change, how people view the intellectually disabled may change if their no longer considered retarded.

Even though the phrase will change to "intellectually disabled" for 22 laws, the meanings of the statues will remain the same.