Philadelphia’s wording change reflects progress, Nutter says


It’s now Philadelphia law that the phrase “intellectual disability” will be used in place of a far less politically correct term.

Mayor Michael Nutter has signed a bill mandating the change in the city’s code during ceremonies at City Hall. He says substituting the words for “mental retardation” is important.

“Time has finally caught up and it’s way overdue to remove this demeaning term from our language and any official communication of the City of Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “The term in question hurts people, it’s disparaging and is used in hurtful ways by any number of folks.”

Councilman Dennis O’Brien, who introduced the legislation, said the change helps those with disabilities.

“It’s more than just words on a page. You can’t say it enough. Words and language are powerful, they have the power to uplift, to enlighten, to inspire, to empower,” O’Brien said. “They build confidence, energy and growth, but they can also hurt, diminish, discount and limit.”

There is a need to reshape attitudes and assumptions surrounding those with disabilities, he said.

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