Bill would permanently remove "R-word" from state's administrative code

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The push continues to remove an outdated term for people with disabilities from state agency documents.

The term retardation was previously used in the medical field to describe a variety of complex health issues, but one local representative is pushing for a change.

Warren Petryk, 93rd Assembly District representative the "R-word” is an offensive term to those with intellectual disabilities. He says it's an outdated term and is dehumanizing.

Petryk co-authored legislation in 2012 to delete the term from state statutes. The legislation passed and was signed into law, but the term can still be found in 80 places throughout Wisconsin’s administrative code.

He recently introduced Assembly Bill 20 has received support from both sides of the aisle and would permanently remove derogatory phrases from the administrative code.

Stacy Wigfield, president, and CEO of REACH, a disability program in Eau Claire, agrees that removing the word would be a positive thing.

“We're trying to include people with disabilities into the community in general and that means breaking down those barriers and sometimes those barriers are the very words that are used,” said Wigfield.

Petryk says he's received bi-partisan support on this bill and he's confident in its direction moving forward.

“It is my hope that the bill comes before the full Assembly very soon so I can vote in favor of this important legislation and send it to the Governor’s desk for him to sign into law,” said Petryk.