The Arc Selected as a Top Nonprofit Working for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON, DC – The Arc has been chosen as one of the top nonprofits working for people with disabilities by Philanthropedia, a subsidiary of GuideStar, which is a nonprofit organization working to help make the public, including donors, aware of the highest impact nonprofits in a cause.  The Arc was selected as one of eleven high-impact nonprofits in the disability field by a group of 79 experts, including foundation professionals, nonprofit senior staff, academics, and researchers.

The experts evaluated each nonprofit based on their ability to carry out their mission, their organizational strengths and, most importantly, evidence of the impact they are achieving on behalf of the people and communities the nonprofit serves. According to one expert who reviewed The Arc’s submission, “The Arc is the nation’s touchstone for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. The Arc has become the national center for information dissemination. In addition, its leadership has committed itself to ensuring that Washington keeps people with disabilities in the forefront when making important employment, health care and related decisions.”

Philanthropedia, which was acquired by GuideStar in April 2011, is unique from other online rating sites or donation sites because they use experts to identify high-impact nonprofits.  GuideStar is the industry leader in nonprofit data with information on more than 1.8 million nonprofits. And, as an industry leader, GuideStar has a national audience of millions of professionals, funders, advisors, individuals, and others.

“We are honored to have received this distinction from Philanthropedia and GuideStar.  For the last 60 years, The Arc has led the movement for improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In order to continue our mission, we need the support of donors, advocates, and dedicated professionals in the disability field, and this acknowledgement can only help us grow at all levels, nationally and in local communities across the country,” said Peter V. Berns, The Arc’s CEO.

To read more about experts in the field have to say about The Arc, click on the Expert Reviews section on The Arc’s organization profile.  All the information collected from the research is available on Philanthropedia’s website and will shortly be available on GuideStar Take Action’s website.

The Arc has also been honored by BBB/Wise Giving Alliance and American Institute on Philanthropy and the recently released Charting Impact initiative as it works alongside its network of over 700 chapters to implement is high impact practices in its own governance and management.

Are You Coming to Denver?

Lucky Strike Lanes

Lucky Strike Lanes

There’s still time to take advantage of early bird rates for The Arc’s National Convention September 16-19 in Denver, CO. Register now and make your reservations at The Sheraton Downtown Denver and get discounted rates saving you hundreds on your trip to the biggest and best opportunity to connect with the intellectual and developmental disability community this year. We’ve extended early registration discounts until August 19 and hotel room discounts are valid until August 14.

We’re expecting a huge crowd for 3 days of informative and inspirational sessions on topics important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and those who serve them such as:

The Medicaid Crisis, Waiting Lists, Voting, Protecting Social Security, Supporting Families Holistically, Providing Leadership for a Stable Organization, Special Needs Planning for Parents, Self-Advocacy Initiatives, Social Enterprise, Involving siblings and Affordable Housing.

And, don’t miss The Arc and Sprout National Film Festival Luncheon spotlighting people with I/DD or the spectacular Opening Event hosted by The Arc Thrift Stores and The Arc of Colorado at Lucky Strike! Only a short time left to scoop up early bird rates, so don’t delay. Register now here.

Need help getting to Denver? No problem. Hammer Travel is the official travel sponsor of The Arc’s National Convention offering customized, comprehensive travel arrangements for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Visit or call 1-877-345-8599.

Special Thanks to our 2011 National Convention Sponsors: AGS, Diversified Nonprofit Services, Essential Learning, Hammer Travel, The HSC Foundation, Irwin Siegel Agency, Inc., Liberty Mutual, Medisked, MetLife, Managance Consulting, Mutual of America, Rest Assured, Simply Home, Tandem Select, Arc Thrift Stores of Colorado and Trips, Inc.

The Arc Celebrates the 21st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Washington DC – The Arc of the United States today celebrates the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights law was created to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disabilities.

“Today serves as a reminder to us of not only how far we have come in the last 21 years, but of how much there is still left to do,” said Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc. “The ADA has empowered millions of individuals with disabilities over the last two decades, yet there is still much discrimination facing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This anniversary should serve as a call to action – our work will not be complete until there is full inclusion and equality for individuals with disabilities.”

The ADA protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, privately operated public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, stores, museums, etc.), transportation, and telecommunications. A person with a disability, as defined by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major bodily functions or major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having an impairment.

The ADA’s integration mandate has helped many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) leave institutions and move to community based settings. However, there are still many individuals living in nursing homes and other types of institutional settings who could and who want to live in more integrated settings.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

New Data Reveals Our Nation is Neglecting People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Survey findings from human rights organization, The Arc, reveal nation’s efforts fail to provide fundamentals for individuals and families

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 14, 2011) – Fifty years ago, President Kennedy called on the nation to bring people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) “out of the shadows,” to give them opportunities to lead productive, quality lives. Sadly, new data released today from The Arc’s Families and Individual Needs for Disability Support (FINDS) survey shows efforts have plateaued and not nearly enough progress has been made to create these opportunities. While budget cuts and economic strain have hurt all Americans, the 7 million living with I/DD and their families are among the hardest hit, with access to needed services drastically reduced.  In fact, 62 percent of caregivers reported a decrease in services for their family member with a disability.  Meanwhile, budget proposals in Congress threaten to dismantle Medicaid, making it even harder for people with I/DD and their families to achieve.

The Arc, the nation’s largest and oldest human rights organization for the I/DD community serving more than a million individuals and their families, conducted a national survey of nearly 5,000 respondents on educational, housing, employment and support needs.  The results of this landmark survey are being released in a report today, “Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain.”

According to the FINDS survey, one-third of parents and caregivers (potentially 1 million families) reported that they are on waiting lists for government funded services, with the average wait more than five years.  The survey also found that the promise of integrated, community-based employment is not being met.  In fact, 85 percent of families reported that their adult family members with I/DD are not employed at all.  Opportunities for inclusive education, a pre-requisite for employment, are also not being met.  Too few students are completing high school – in fact, 52 percent of families reported that their family member with I/DD left school without receiving a high school diploma.

“People with I/DD have a fundamental moral and civil right to be fully included in all aspects of society.  Every day, The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetime,” says Peter V. Berns, chief executive officer of The Arc and newly appointed member of President Barack Obama’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (May 2011). “Although we have made some progress as a nation over the last 50 years, our nation has an obligation to do much more.”

“Yet we are on the brink of taking giant steps backward, and the future is uncertain for these individuals and their families. The vast majority of individuals with I/DD live with their parents. So, when their parents can no longer emotionally or financially support them, who will? Without any concrete measures to protect these individuals and proposals to end Medicaid as we know it on the table in Washington, we have a train wreck waiting to happen.”

FINDS found more than 75 percent of families report problems accessing non-institutional community care, trained reliable homecare providers, services and resources.  Families are shouldering tremendous financial strain as they’ve had to assume the financial and day-to-day support of their loved ones; many have even had to quit their jobs to stay home and provide care.

FINDS also revealed:

  • 1 out of 5 families (20 percent) report that someone in the family had to quit a job to stay at home and support the needs of a family member.
  • More than 80 percent of families reported not having enough retirement savings for their future as a result of using personal funds to compensate for the lack of services available to their loved ones.
  • 62 percent of parents and caregivers don’t have a plan for where the person they support will live when the parent/caregiver gets older.

As a result of the report, The Arc is calling for more activism by people with I/DD and their families, launching a new effort to organize 1 million people to come out of the shadows and make their needs and concerns an issue in the 2012 elections.

To raise awareness surrounding the barriers those with I/DD face and how the organization can help individuals and families fully participate in society, The Arc has partnered with Lauren Potter, star of the hit FOX show “Glee.”  As a successful actress with Down syndrome who is achieving her dreams, Lauren represents the spirit of The Arc’s work.  Today, The Arc and Potter will kick off a public service announcement television campaign.

“I became involved with The Arc when I got the Image and Inclusion award last year.  I am happy to be able to help portray a positive image of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  I’m glad the Arc works to protect human rights of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” says Potter.

The Arc “Achieve with Us” Contest
To encourage people with I/DD to share their stories of achievement, The Arc is conducting a national contest via their Facebook fan page.   Starting today until July 14, entrants can share a story and a photo highlighting the accomplishments of an individual with I/DD for the chance to receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C.  For more information about the “Achieve with Us” contest, please visit

For more information, or to see additional survey results, please visit

About the FINDS Survey

The web-based FINDS survey was conducted from July 22, 2010, through October 31, 2010. The survey was completed by 4,962 caregivers of people with disabilities.  Families from all 50 states and Washington, DC completed the survey. 

The Arc Begins Affiliation with the US Business Leadership Network to Improve Employment for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Today, The Arc, the largest organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), is announcing it has become  an affiliate of The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®).  The USBLN® seeks to help build workplaces where people with I/DD are valued for their talents and contributions.

“It’s partnerships like this one that will help advance employment for people with I/DD.  The Arc aims to be a resource to businesses large and small that see the value in employing people with all kinds of skill sets so that they can contribute to society in a meaningful way and live a fulfilling life,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, FASD, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses.  The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc’s network will help the USBLN®, which is the national disability organization that serves as the collective voice of over 60 Business Leadership Network affiliates across North America and represents over 5,000 employers, advance employment opportunities for people with I/DD.  In this tough economy, with the national unemployment rate at 9%, people with I/DD face huge obstacles to gaining employment in the private sector.  While there are federal programs to help those with I/DD find employment within the federal government, in recent years the percentage of federal employees with disabilities has decreased.

The USBLN®  promotes the business imperative of the preparation and inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, marketplace, and supply chain while supporting the development and expansion of its BLN affiliates. The USBLN® recognizes and supports best practices in hiring and advancing employees with disabilities, marketing to consumers with disabilities, and encourages contracting with vendors with disabilities through the development and certification of disability-owned business enterprises. To learn more, visit

“This is a tremendous opportunity for The Arc to take a step forward in our goal of increasing employment for people with I/DD.  We look forward to what this affiliation will bring across the country to the people we serve,” said Berns.

The Arc and the Autism Society Annouce Collaboration on the Autism NOW Center

The Arc and the Autism Society collaborate on Autism NOW: The National Autism Information and Resource Center — a National Initiative of The Arc and funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. The partnership will include the engagement of the Autism Society in several aspects of the Center’s activities, including participation on the National Advisory Committee, providing information and referral services through the Autism Society’s AutismSource™ national contact center, and utilizing the Autism Society’s chapter network to disseminate information to the broader autism community about the Autism NOW Center’s activities and resources.

“We are thrilled that Autism Society will play such an important role in the operations and outreach of the Autism NOW Center,” stated Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc. “The Arc and Autism Society working together will ensure that more families connected to autism and other developmental disabilities have more meaningful resources and solutions for their needs.”

“We are looking forward to working with The Arc on Autism NOW to ensure that individuals on the autism spectrum and their families get the help they need in finding quality resources,” said Lee Grossman, President and CEO of the Autism Society. “We applaud  the Administration on Developmental Disabilities for responding to the community’s call for this much needed national resource and are pleased to contribute to it.” The Autism Society has provided information and referral services to the community through AutismSource since 1971. Families can access AutismSource at, submit an inquiry through or by phone at 1-800-3Autism.

In October, The Arc received an award of $1.87 million for fiscal year 2010 to establish a national resource and information center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. In collaboration with several key partners, The Arc is implementing an innovative and dynamic initiative to engage and leverage a national network of disability, aging, military, and family organizations to deliver information and resources relevant to individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities. More information about the Center can be found at or by contacting

The Arc Announces New Members to Serve on National Board

Washington, D.C.—A roster of dynamic new members have joined the national board of The Arc. This distinguished group includes activists in the intellectual and development disability (I/DD) movement and leaders from a wide range of professions, including business.

The new board includes a vice president of one of the world’s leading investment groups, a former Policy Director for a United States Senator, a corporate attorney, an executive with MetLife and a coach with the Washington Redskins football team.

“It is my privilege to serve as the new President of The Arc,” said Mohan Mehra who has served on The Arc’s Board of Directors since 2004. “This remarkable group shares the quality of being deeply committed to improving the lives of people with I/DD and each brings talent, energy, insight and experience. This is an exciting time for The Arc as we assume our position as the largest human service organization in this country serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I look forward to working with board members to move us into the future,” Mehra said.

“The Arc is moving in a clear, new direction as we experience rapid growth including plans to launch a fresh and powerful brand identity this spring. These leaders will help to reinvigorate our organization and propel us even further with their passion and energy. The board brings additional bench strength to The Arc in their communities and nationally; their unique skills will complement and enhance the board’s collective contributions,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

In a recent survey by Forbes magazine of the 200 largest U.S. charities, The Arc ranks eight (8) in total revenue

National Board Members of The Arc:

President: Mohan Mehra served as Secretary of The Arc and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2004.

Vice President: Nancy Webster, who has served on the Board since 2002.

Treasurer: Ron Brown has served on the Board since 2006.

Secretary for the Board: Michael Mack, who previously served as Vice President and as Treasurer.

M.J. Bartelmay, Hermitage, PA. Immediate Past President of The Arc of Pennsylvania. Previously served as Director at Large on The Arc’s national board.

Barbara Coppens, Cherry Hill, NJ, Self-Advocate, Advocate Assistant with Disability Rights New Jersey.

Hugh M. Evans, CFA, Baltimore, MD. Vice President of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.

Connie Garner, Ph.D., Burke, VA. Policy Director with the law firm of Foley Hoag LLP. Former Policy Director, Special Populations for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) where she worked closely with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Gary Horner, Chief Financial Officer, ACHIEVA. Elected by the National Conference of
Executives (NCE) to serve a two year term as NCE’s second representative.

Thomas A. Judd, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Attorney, Fredrikson & Byron P.A.

Joe Meadours, Sacramento, CA. Self-Advocate and Executive Director of People First of
California. Elected to a second term on the Board.

Pat Napoliello, San Francisco. Founder of the California Alliance for Inclusive Communities and former President of The Arc of San Francisco. Elected to a second term on the Board.

Kurt Rutzen, Minneapolis, MN. Self-Advocate. Program Specialist for the University of
Minnesota Institute on Community Integration’s Research and Training Center on Community Living.

Lou Spanos, Pittsburgh, PA. Linebackers coach for the Washington Redskins. Previously spent 16 seasons as a defensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Doug Church, Oak Hill, VA. Vice Chairman, Virginia Heritage Bank.

Kelly Piacenti, Chester, NJ. Director of the MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning.

Stacy Taylor, San Diego, CA. Partner in the international law firm DLA Piper.

The Arc is especially grateful to Lynne A. Cleveland who served as the President of the national board since October, 2008 and has served on the Board of Directors of The Arc since 2000.

The Arc also thanks our outgoing Board members: Kim Brown, Shirley Dove, Bill Dusold,
Chester Finn, Janet Albert-Herman, Cindy Johnson, Mary V. Jordan and Deb Seman, NCE
Representative to the Board.

The Arc Receives ACF Award of $1.87 million for National Autism Resource and Information Center

Washington, DC – The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced yesterday that The Arc would receive an award of $1.87 million for fiscal year 2010 to establish a national resource and information center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.

The Arc, in collaboration with several key partners will implement an innovative and dynamic initiative, called Autism NOW: The National Autism Resource and Information Center to engage and leverage a national network of disability, aging, military, and family organizations to deliver information and resources relevant to individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities.

“The Arc and our partners are primed and ready to build a dynamic resource to address the needs of people with ASD and other developmental disabilities through this national network. We are proud to have the opportunity to launch Autism NOW, a much needed resource. It is especially significant that self-advocates will have a meaningful role in leading, implementing and realizing the goals of this innovative project,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Other partners include the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) to provide expertise from the self-advocate perspective. For research expertise in key areas across the lifespan in ASD and other developmental disabilities, The Arc has partnered with members of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Network, also referred to as UCEDDs (University Centers on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), the Institute for Community Inclusion from the University of Massachusetts, the Developmental Disabilities Institute from Wayne State University, and the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies from the University of Maine.

For deep policy expertise in areas of autism, family support, health care implementation, and aging, partners incude Brandeis University’s Heller School of Public Policy and the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The Arc has engaged a national dissemination team that will connect efforts to key stakeholders in every state and territory in the United States, including the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the National Military Family Association (NFMA), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). Other key autism organizations will also be included in the Center’s activities.

The project will be led by Ann Cameron Caldwell, Ph.D., the Chief Research and Innovations Officer for The Arc and Tonia Ferguson, Special Projects Director.  “The new National Autism Resource and Information Center will fill a great need in the autism community by providing high-quality resources and information on community-based services and interventions for people with ASD and their families.  The Arc understands the challenges that families face; and we also recognize the vast contributions that people with ASD and other intellectual and developmental disabilities make to our societies and communities,” Caldwell said. “We are proud to have people that identify as having ASD or other intellectual and developmental disabilities (self-advocates) as full partners leading and implementing this initiative.”

“Autism is a heart-wrenching condition that presents special challenges for many families,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We want families to know that we are listening to them, and
the release of this grant award, brings us one step closer to providing the resources needed to improve the quality of life for people with ASD and other developmental disabilities.”

“People with ASD and other developmental disabilities face significant challenges in accessing the supports they need,” said Commissioner Sharon Lewis of ADD. “This new center will serve to connect people with ASD and their families to services and activities that promote self-determination, independence, and inclusion in the community.”

The Arc Calls for Boycott of ‘Horror’ Attraction “Pennhurst Asylum”

Assails Use of Notorious Institution as Halloween Fright House

If there is any ‘haunting’ on the 110-acre former site of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital in East Vincent Township, PA, it is in the dark vestiges of an institution where residents with disabilities were abused, neglected, beaten, and sexually assaulted.

Shockingly, the suburban Philadelphia Pennhurst site, which closed in 1987, has now become the location that two developers are using to stage a commercial horror house attraction, scheduled to open to the public on Friday, September 24th, called “Pennhurst Asylum.”

The Arc, The Arc of Pennsylvania, The Arc of Chester County, and hundreds of advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in neighboring states are calling on their members and the public to boycott the new attraction which desecrates one of our nation’s most notorious state institutions.

U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Broderick ruled against Pennhurst in a 1977 class action suit finding the institution guilty of violating patient’s constitutional rights. When it was forced to close in 1987 in the wake of allegations of abuse, it sparked the process of deinstitutionalization; the remaining 460 patients were discharged to live in the community, transferred to other facilities or provided with treatment plans guided by family members.

The Arc of Pennsylvania was a key plaintiff in the litigation that resulted in Pennhurst’s closure to stop overcrowding and abuse sending a strong message about the mistreatment of this vulnerable population.

“This outrageous, offensive and disgraceful business venture is an assault on the historical memory of Pennhurst and diminishes the pain of real people with disabilities who endured unspeakable abuse within its walls. “Pennhurst Asylum” exploits the suffering that took place there and undermines meaningful efforts to eradicate stereotypes and negative perceptions that persist in society against people with disabilities,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

This fright-filled Halloween themed atrocity, according to property owner Richard Chakejian and his partner Randy Bates, aims to attract customers between 12 and 20 years old. Visitors will be “entertained” and scared by an electro-shock therapy scene with a Frankenstein-like monster; an autopsy room will contain some artifacts that the developers said were found on the property.

Reports of the torso of a female monster, complete with a skeleton face in the autopsy room, is said to “mimic” former residents of Pennhurst or people with disabilities. It’s been reported that in response to these claims, Chakejian said, “This is all traditional Halloween fun.”

Despite a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, by a resident of the East Vincent Township, seeking a court injunction to halt the property development of the Pennhurst property, Chakejian in partnership with Bates, who owns and operates Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride in Glen Mills, PA, are moving forward.

“The Arc is making a plea to all people of good conscience to join us in standing against the opening of this truly horrifying project as well as Mr. Bates’ other attraction, The Bates Motel/Haunted Hayride. We want to send a strong message to business people such as Mr. Bates that the public will not tolerate commercial enterprises which are so disrespectful of a large group of people. While we have come far in the struggle to ensure that people with disabilities are not abused, neglected or mistreated, the “Pennhurst Asylum” is an ugly reminder of how far we have to go,” Berns said.

The Arc Applauds the Passage of Rosa’s Law

Washington, DC – In a huge victory for self-advocates and The Arc, Rosa’s Law – legislation that substitutes the term “intellectual disabilities” for the term “mental retardation” in many federal laws – passed the House last night.

The Senate passed Rosa’s Law earlier this year. Passage by the House will send the measure to President Obama for his signature. The Obama administration supports this legislation and it is anticipated that the President will sign the bill into law shortly.

This is an important stepping stone for shaping future legislation that will transform these outdated terms in entitlement programs. This legislation substitutes the outdated, stigmatizing terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” with the terms “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability” in federal health, education and labor policy statutes.
The legislation does not cover entitlement programs, which includes SSI, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The Arc was instrumental in the passage of Rosa’s Law by galvanizing support across the nation and through vigorous advocacy. “When President Obama signs this into law we will have achieved another historic milestone in our movement. We understand that language plays a crucial role in how people with intellectual disabilities are perceived and treated in society. Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic civil and human rights,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Joe Meadours, Executive Director of People First of California and a member of the board of directors of The Arc of the United States said, “As a self-advocate, passing Rosa’s Law sends a powerful message that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve respect. We want the same things everyone wants and deserve to live in the community just like everyone else. We want to take advantage of our constitutional rights to access education, employment and independent living in the communities we call home.”

Self-advocates and The Arc have led the effort to get the bill enacted into law as part of a nationwide effort to remove the stigma of the “r-word.” The majority of states have altered their
terminology by replacing the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability in state laws and in the names of state agencies that serve this population.

“Adoption of “people first” language by the federal government encourages the general public to follow suit and is a major step forward in changing attitudes, which will ultimately result in increased opportunities for people with I/DD to be fully included in society,” Berns said.