Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that removes outdated, disrespectful terminology that refers to persons with developmental disabilities from all New Jersey statutes and regulations. The bill, S-1982, eliminates references such as “mental retardation,” “mentally retarded” and “feeble-minded,” replacing the terms with “intellectual disability” or “developmental disability.” All future legislation will encompass these changes.
“We live in the 21st Century and our laws must reflect that distinction,” said Governor Christie. “Those with intellectual disabilities are an important part of the fabric of New Jersey. Using antiquated, degrading terms to describe individuals with disabilities is an affront to the integrity of the person and their family, and below our common decency as a people. I am proud to move the language of New Jersey’s laws and regulations beyond such terminology.”
The legislation also updates and replaces references in Title 30 of the Revised Statutes to “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” with the terms “developmentally disabled” and “developmental disability,” These changes also reflect the fact that the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Services serves all persons with developmental disabilities.