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Adult Advocacy Centers and 26 Partner Organizations Ask State Legislators to Remove Harmful Language from State Law

January 13, 2021 / Legislation

Trees with colorful leaves stand in front of the Ohio Statehouse on a clear Fall day

Today the Adult Advocacy Centers and 26 partner organizations from around the state sent a letter to state lawmakers requesting that Ohio work to remove language from the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Revised Code that is degrading and harmful to people with disabilities. These words include such words as “idiot,” “deaf and dumb,” “mentally retarded,” “lunatics,” “mental defective,” “crippled child/children,” “derangement” and “handicapped.” The letter includes 22 citations to these words in current state law.

The partner organizations signing onto the letter make up a broad coalition of disability advocacy, aging and victims’ rights agencies, including Advocacy and Protective Services Inc., The Arc of Ohio, Canopy Child Advocacy Center, DeafPhoenix, Deaf World Against Violence Everywhere, Disability Rights Ohio, Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, Easterseals Central and Southeast Ohio, The Forensic Nursing Network, Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, Mental Health & Addiction Advocacy Coalition, Mental Health America of Ohio, Mental Health & Recovery Board of Ashland County, National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter, Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, Ohio Association of the Deaf, Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Ohio Psychological Association, Ohio Self Determination Association, Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council, Ohio Victim Witness Association, People First of Ohio and Pro Seniors.

“We know the state of Ohio started this work with House Bill 158 in 2016, which sought to replace the term ‘mentally retarded person’ in the Ohio Revised Code,” says Katherine Yoder, Executive Director of the Adult Advocacy Centers. “That was an important first step, but there is still more work to do. We look forward to working collaboratively with Ohio’s state lawmakers to make these important changes so that respect for individuals with disabilities is reflected in all aspects of our society, including the laws that govern us.”


The Adult Advocacy Centers (AACs) were founded to serve adults with disabilities who are alleged victims or witnesses of abuse, maltreatment or neglect. Ohio will be the first state to develop the AACs model – one-point facilities equipped to provide holistic, accessible, trauma-informed services to adult crime victims with disabilities. Learn more at