Missouri was one of seven states with the r-word still used in the official title of the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, that is until today. Governor Blunt signed an executive order changing the division’s name to the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
"The reasons for this executive order are very simple, the use of the term mental retardation in the name of the division is really counterproductive to the division’s statutory obligation to reducing the stigma of having a developmental disability," he said.
The name change does not effect funding or the division’s mission, Blunt said.
"I want to emphasize this name change making the division the Division of Developmental Disabilities will not impact the services that Missourians and Missouri families receive," he said. "This name change will not diminish in any way the mission of the division and this name change will not reduce, change or impact and funding and support that is administered by the division."
The name change is a long time coming, said division director Bernard Simons.
"It’s a great historic day for Missouri to move forward and to insure that our mission stays the same, which it will," he said. "But to listen to the advocates who for a long period of time were saying please get rid of the r word for retardation."
During the last several years, disability-related agencies and organizations have removed the term mental retardation from agency names. In the last 18 months, five states and the District of Columbia have removed the term from the state agency’s name.
Governor’s Council on Disability launched a new Internet portal, www.disabilityinfo.mo.gov , to assist Missourians with questions about disability resources. Governor Blunt called the portal a one–stop access point for the public to obtain information on disability resources.