ST. PAUL, Minn. – A visit to a parking lot with outdated accessibility parking signs this winter sparked what’s become known as “Hope’s Bill.” Senate File 1136 updates current state laws to ‘people first’ language which means prohibiting the use of “handicap,” “disabled,” or “disability” on accessible parking signs. Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids) chief authored the bill after his daughter Hope, a senior in high school brought the issue to his attention.
In addition to requiring ‘people first’ language, the bill changes the wheelchair symbol on women’s restrooms to a picture of a wheelchair symbol depicting a woman wearing a dress. The change symbolizes the idea that persons with disabilities shouldn’t be presented as androgynous.
The changes outlined in the bill were presented at the Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee hearing by Hope Hoffman and Senator Hoffman this past week.
“I could not be more proud of my daughter Hope,” said Sen. Hoffman. “This bill hits home for several reasons: my work outside the legislature deals with ensuring persons with disabilities have an opportunity to lead the best and most meaningful lives possible; the other reason is that for the first time I get to present a bill my daughter helped write, that will have a direct effect on her life.”
The legislation also prohibits the use of the words “handicap” and “disabled” on any newly printed or digital media created or maintained by state agencies or private entities directing the public to accessible restrooms and accessible parking. Instead, a variation of the word “accessible” will be substituted. The legislation directs that any state agency must conform to these substitutions in order to continue to receive state aid.
“The term handicapped and disabled are inhumane, dehumanizing and detract from who we are as individuals,” said Hope Hoffman. “It’s time we update our laws and signs to reflect the changes already in place in our communities. Senate File 1136 does this.”
You can contact Senator Hoffman at Sen.John.Hoffman@senate.mn or by calling his office at (651) 296-4154.