What a difference a few words make.
The term mental retardation was wiped from all federal health, education and labor laws and replaced with "intellectual disability" as part of a 2010 measure designed to foster sensitivity toward Americans living with such disabilities.
Some states had already passed or were considering similar measures.
Federal statutes that had once referred to mental retardation and mentally retarded individuals now describes them as individuals with intellectual disabilities. The legislation forcing the change, Rosa's Law, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Oct. 5, 2010.
The law is named for Rosa Marcellino, who has Down Syndrome and worked to force similar changes in Maryland's health and education statutes. Marcellino was 9 at the time of the bill's signing and attended the ceremony on the East Room of the White House.
"Now this may seem to some people like a minor change," Obama said during the signing ceremony, "but I think Rosa's brother Nick put it best ... I want everybody to hear Nick's wisdom here. He said, 'What you call people is how you treat them. If we change the words, maybe it will be the start of a new attitude towards people with disabilities.' That's a lot of wisdom from Nick."
Attempts to eliminate the use of the terms mental retardation and mentally retarded followed their growing use as slurs to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities.