Signed, sealed, delivered: two new disability laws!

Early last week the President signed Rosa’s Law. This law, named after a little girl in Maryland who has down syndrome, replaces the term “mental retardation” with the term “intellectual disabilities” in all federal health, labor and education laws.

Rosa was at a ceremony I attended on Friday with her family. Her brother was reported saying that this law is so important because what we call each other reflects how we treat each other. Wisdom from a middle school boy. Since many people with autism also have intellectual disabilities, I am hopeful that this law will influence how society welcomes all people with autism.

And then last Friday President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. This law will require cell phones and smart phones to better meet the needs of individuals with visual impairments. It will also require television sets to be equipped with built-in technology that allows them to receive video descriptions (just like they currently are able to receive closed captions) without separate decoders.

I helped to get this bill through Congress and it was a thrill to be at the White House and see the president implement change with the stroke of a pen. Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark) and Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass) were the primary sponsors of this new law.

And if being at the White House wasn’t cool enough, Stevie Wonder was there too. Yes, that Stevie Wonder. The My Cherie Amore Stevie Wonder.

I know an election is approaching … and I know many of us are frustrated by the current climate in Washington. But things were different last week. The good guys scored big time, twice! Its time to celebrate!


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

  1. Lorinda Grauel Says:

    It’s great that we have 2 new laws. However, with so many of the states passing autism insurance legislation, it is imperative that we fight to have age limits removed on these services like ABA therapy. It’s the adults with autism who are going to lose out and big time! ABA is proven to work with all age groups and is a vital component to an individual being successful on a job, or in their own home, or in the community. It isn’t age discrimination, it is disability discrimination because the age limits apply ONLY if the person has autism! We have to put an end to this immediately. Seems to me that it is a violation of the U.N. policy on disabilities, but states don’t seem to care about that! What do you think?

  2. Audrey Shipman Says:

    Any progress is good, but what is being done for parents who have concerns about what happens to their autistic adult children when we die. What is the answer to that.
    I live in Charlotte Hall, Maryland and would like to be connected to other parents of adult autistic children.