Bill deserves real action

You are right (“A bill to change state law wording, really?” Feb. 13). This is not the ideal time to be using valuable time and energy to change wording in the state law regarding people with intellectual disabilities. That time was at least 20 years ago. I took a writing workshop then, sponsored by the local media in the small Eastern Washington town where I was living. Workshop participants were taught to focus on a person first; any disability is secondary. Specifically, we were told to write “person with a disability” or “person who uses a wheelchair,” rather than “disabled person” or “wheelchair bound” or “the disabled,” in the same way we don’t refer to people as “the cancered” or “the ulcered.”

As in the general population, there are wide-ranging personal differences among those with intellectual disabilities. Not all persons with intellectual disabilities are aware enough to get upset over the term “mentally retarded,” but I do not know of any person with a disability so severe they do not respond to being recognized and treated as a person first.

The term “intellectual disability” is relatively new, having been preceded, as social awareness has evolved, by “developmental disability,” and then “developmental delay,” long ago replacing the term “mentally retarded.” So the wording in the law is way, way behind the times.

How much time can it take for our legislators to make the simple change called for in House Bill 1835? Ten or 15 minutes? Ten minutes in exchange for giving many with challenges more self-esteem. Fifteen minutes that might bring us all up to speed in seeing people first and putting people first when allocating resources that can directly improve their lives. This “nice thought” deserves words followed by real action that reflects the diversity of needs and preferences among our citizens with intellectual disabilities.



A letter from Adele’s ‘pirate’

(In response to “A telling coin causes some need for concern,” Feb. 13). Ahoy all ye landlubbers of the Puget Sound. Call me Ishmael. I be first mate on a Somali pirate ship, the SS Paranoid Delusion. Our captain be a man of adventure and he says to us one day, he says, “Lads let’s forgo pirating the Gulf of Aden. What with its miles of deserted beaches, it poses no challenge. Ye all know how we can patrol these waters for days of end and not see hide nor hair of any military vessel. The pickins is just too easy, mateys. The booty we get from commandeering tankers and freighters be disproportional to the risks involved. We’re going to move our operation to the most hostile waters, with respect to pirating, that there is. I have in mind a narrow stretch of water that is populated on all sides by more than a million pair of eyes and which bristles with naval vessels. And don’t ye be thinkin’ that all that extra risk means I’ll be chasing the big money. Quite the opposite me buckos – I intend to pirate ferry boats. That’s right, you slimy worms – ferry boats!”

We all thoughts the captain’s crow’s nest was full of wadding, but we be a loyal crew and so agreed. The captain instructed us to blend in as best we could. We were told to dress like ye scalawags and to spend the local currency, but I guess one of our boys must have forgotten that second rule and dropped a few shillings at the local Safeway when he was buying powder for our muskets. Arggg, as much as it pains me to admit it, old eagle-eye Adele spotted one of our native coins and so foiled our plot, and so it’s back to the Gulf of Aden we return for more boring, but lucrative, pirating.



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