LANSING — State Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said she was grateful that her House Bill 5186, part of a bipartisan package of bills that change the terminology used to refer to hard of hearing people, was signed into law on May 26. The bills replace the terms “deafness” and “hearing impaired” with “deaf,” “deafblind” or “hard of hearing.” In particular, Rep. Brinks’ bill amends the Revised School Code to use those terms when referring to a person who is deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing and who is seeking a limited teaching certificate for a program that serves students who are also deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing.

“It’s important that our state use language that is not offensive to the people it serves,” Rep. Brinks said. “Updating these terms may seem like a small change, but they make a big difference to people who simply want to be treated with the respect and dignity of any other citizen.”

Rep. Brinks’ bill was one of 12 bills in a bicameral, bipartisan package that updated language referring to deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing people throughout Michigan’s legal code. The effort follows similar efforts in recent years to update Michigan’s legal terminology and get rid of offensive terms referring to people with other physical and intellectual disabilities.

“I’m grateful to have been part of this bipartisan effort that responded to the needs of Michigan’s deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community,” Rep. Brinks said. “Diversity is one of Michigan’s strengths, and our state will be the strongest it can be when all people feel included and well-represented by our state government.”