House Passes Bill Removing Outdated and Offensive Terms

APRIL 3, 2024

Representative Mike Connolly joined with his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues today to pass H.4369, An Act relative to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities to update the Massachusetts General Laws by removing out-of-date and offensive terms related to persons with disabilities, and rename the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to MassAbility.

"Words matter, and this bill ensures we are using the right words in service of our constituents with intellectual disabilities," Representative Connolly said. "It's important that our constituents feel seen and are embraced for who they are in our statues, and this simple bill takes a meaningful step forward to do so."

This bill removes out-of-date and offensive language from the Massachusetts General Laws when referencing people with disabilities. The language in the bill removes all variations of outdated terms such as “handicapped,” “disabled,” and “retarded.” The bill replaces these terms with current terminology such as “person with a disability” and “person with an intellectual disability.” Additionally, the term “autistic” is replaced with “autism” in reference to Autism Awareness Month. Additionally, the package renames the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to MassAbility and updates the outdated terms included in its enabling statute.  

The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities heard from many advocacy organizations in the disability community in support of the bill and all changes were vetted with relevant agencies, including Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Executive Office of Education, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Having passed the House of Representatives, the package is now in the Senate for their consideration. Rep. Connolly would like to thank Speaker Mariano, and Chairs Michlewitz and Livingstone for bringing this bill forward, and to the Arc of Massachusetts and the Disability Law Center for their advocacy.