NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A4375A
SPONSOR: Weisenberg (MS)
TITLE OF BILL: An act relating to the use of certain language and
terminology when dealing with certain issues
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1. Relating to the use of
certain language or terminology in legislation when referring to indi-
viduals with disabilities.
JUSTIFICATION: The language used to describe individuals with disabil-
ities shapes and reflects society's attitudes towards people with disa-
bilities. Certain terms currently used diminish the humanity of individ-
uals with disabilities, creating an invisible barrier that excludes
these individuals from being viewed as equal!members of the community.
To avoid perpetuating this form of discrimination, it is necessary to
require the use of new terminology that puts the per40n before the disa-
bility, e.g., people with disabilities, rather than the disabled; adults
with mental illness, instead of the mentally ill.
When individuals or groups are identified only by their disability -
autistics or quadraplegics - all the thoughts, goals, feelings, talents
and abilities of a person become reduced to only one characteristic.
This bill requires language that refers to people with disabilities with
the same respect and dignity afforded those without disabilities.
The bill encourages public officials and lawmakers to avoid language
implying that a person as a whole is disabled (e.g., the learning disa-
bled); equates persons with their conditions (e.g., epileptics); has
negative overtones (e.g., afflicted with cerebral palsy); or is regarded
as derogatory or demeaning (e.g., handicapped or mentally deficient).
By using the correct language in legislation, New York State lawmakers
can make a positive impact on how people with disabilities are perceived
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2005: A.56l6 - Passed Assembly, Passed
Senate, Vetoed by Governor
2006: A.11476 - Rewritten to address concerns - Referred to Rules.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2007-2008 Regular Sessions
February 2, 2007
Introduced by M. of A. WEISENBERG, MILLMAN, HEVESI, PAULIN, LAFAYETTE,
BENEDETTO, SCHROEDER -- Multi-Sponsored by -- M. of A. CAHILL, COLTON,
COOK, P. RIVERA, ROBINSON, ROSENTHAL, TITUS -- read once and referred
to the Committee on Governmental Operations -- reported and referred
to the Committee on Rules -- Rules Committee discharged, bill amended,
ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to the Committee on Rules
AN ACT relating to the use of certain language and terminology when
dealing with certain issues
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. 1. The legislature recognizes that language used in refer-
2 ence to individuals with disabilities shapes and reflects society's
3 attitudes towards people with disabilities. Certain terms currently used
4 diminish the humanity and natural condition of having a disability and
5 create an invisible barrier to inclusion as equal community members. The
6 legislature finds it necessary to clarify preferred language for new and
7 revised laws by encouraging the use of terminology that puts the person
8 before the disability.
9 2. On or after the effective date of this section, all new and revised
10 statutes, local laws, ordinances, charters or regulations promulgated or
11 any publication published by the state or any political subdivision that
12 refer to persons with disabilities shall seek to:
13 (a) avoid language that (i) implies that a person as a whole is disa-
14 bled (e.g., the mentally ill or the learning disabled), (ii) equates
15 persons with their condition (e.g., epileptics, autistics or quadrapleg-
16 ics), (iii) has negative overtones (e.g., afflicted with cerebral palsy,
17 suffering from multiple sclerosis, confined to a wheelchair or wheel-
18 chair bound) or (iv) is regarded as derogatory or demeaning (e.g., hand-
19 icapped or mentally deficient); and
20 (b) replace non-respectful language by referring to persons with disa-
21 bilities as persons first (e.g., individuals with disabilities, individ-
22 uals with developmental disabilities, individuals with mental illness,
23 individuals with autism or individuals with mental retardation).
24 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.