As Disability Employment Awareness Month 2009 comes to a close, it does so with two momentous pieces of legislation being introduced by D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray and Chairman of the Human Services Committee Tommy Wells.

The Developmental Disabilities Rights and Services Act of 2009, introduced by Gray and Wells on Oct. 20, encourages a better system for disabled patients and their families to address their concerns with the health system.

The Developmental Disabilities Reform Act of 2009 promotes smaller residences for those who are currently living in group homes and would provide a process in which people could formally submit their complaints to the D.C. council.

“Historically, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have been forced to rely on government services that were often inadequate and failed to meet their needs in a humane and dignified manner,” Wells said [in a press release](

Gray also introduced another bill on Oct. 20th, the People First Respectful Language Modernization Amendment Act of 2009. This bill will avoid the use of labels for people with medical conditions.

“Gray’s People First Act will amend the D.C. Official Code to remove remaining offensive, outdated and inappropriate language referring to persons with disabilities, and replace it with respectful words `putting people first and their disabilities second.’ Handicapper, crippled, mentally retarded, afflicted, feeble-minded, and idiot are terms that shockingly remain in the code,” said [a Oct. 20 press release from Gray’s office](

National Disability Employment Awareness Month has been recognized every October since 1988, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Web site.

Gray first visited the institution as a psychology graduate student in the 1960s, before becoming head of the D.C. Department of Human Services. “

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