Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo accepts the John Fogarty Award from the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities Tuesday during a ceremony at the State House.


Commission on Disabilities awards Rep. Giraldo for sponsoring law removing outdated terminology


STATE HOUSE — The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities presented Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) with its John Fogarty Award for his sponsorship of legislation that removes harmful disability-related language in state law. The award was presented today during a ceremony at the State House.

“I am grateful and humbled to be honored by the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities,” said Representative Giraldo. “The efforts of this commission and other government agencies to put people first and stop promoting outdated, harmful views of people with disabilities was heartily supported by the General Assembly, I’m proud to say.”

The law (2023-H 5755) implements the use of appropriate disability language by replacing the terms “developmental disability” or “developmental disabilities” or “mentally retarded” or “retarded” or “alcoholics” or “drug abusers” used in the General Laws, with the words, “intellectual or developmental disability” or “person with an intellectual or developmental disability” or “persons with substance use disorders.”

“When we use language that isn’t patronizing or insulting, we encourage conversation that views people with disabilities as a strong, independent, viable segment of the population that has just as much to offer as anyone else,” said Representative Giraldo. “And when everyone starts thinking in those terms, it benefits no only those with disabilities, but everyone else by changing the way we all see each other.”

The John Fogarty Award recognizes members of the General Assembly who have been strong advocates for disability rights.