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President Bush Changes PCMR To PCPID
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 25, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--Friday morning, President George W. Bush marked the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by removing the term "mental retardation" from the title of a long-standing advisory committee.

Bush signed an executive order changing the name of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation (PCMR) to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID).

"The committee recently voted to change the committee's name to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and I was pleased to sign an executive order instituting that change," Bush said as he signed the order Friday, flanked by several committee members.

The president's order also deletes the words "mental retardation" from the text of a 1996 executive order regarding the committee and replaces them with "intellectual disabilities".

In 1961, President Kennedy first formed a President's Panel on Mental Retardation to advise the president and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues concerning mental disabilities. President Johnson formally established the President's Committee on Mental Retardation in 1966. Members are appointed to the committee by the president.

Dropping "mental retardation" from the committee's name has been the focus of some of its most recent appointees.

"I want the committee to change the name," committee member Michael Rogers told me during an interview in March.

"It's number one on my agenda."

"People who have this disability are called 'retarded'," he said. "That's like calling black people the 'n-word'."

"We shouldn't do it. Period."

Rogers, who is also a national co-chair of the self-advocacy organization Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), acknowledged that changing the name of the president's committee may be primarily a political move. What will be more important, he noted, is if it reflects in a change in policies -- particularly those having to do with funding of services for people with intellectual disabilities.

"Sometimes small things are important," Rogers said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed on July 26, 1990 by the current president's father, George Herbert Walker Bush. The law granted people with disabilities certain rights for employment, transportation, housing, along with access to public buildings, goods and services.

"These are all welcome changes in American life," President George W. Bush said Friday.

Related press photo:
White House News Release Photo of Signing

(Editor's note: Mike Rogers is seated to the right in your photo, on the president's left)

Related press statements:
NCD Says People With Disabilities Made Progress: More Needs To Be Done
Statement by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson Regarding the 13th Anniversary of the ADA


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