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July 1, 2013
  CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

APD Removes the “R” Word

TALLAHASSEE—Today, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) changed the name of one of its facilities which had previously included the term mentally retarded.  APD Director Barbara Palmer and Sunland Superintendent Merlin Roulhac unveiled the new sign for the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program (DDDP) at the facility located in Chattahoochee this morning. The prior name, which was included in state law, was the Mentally Retarded Defendant Program. The program serves people who have been accused of felony crimes and the courts have ruled that they are incompetent to proceed to trial due to their disability.

APD Director Palmer said, “We work with many individuals who have intellectual disabilities and our agency would never want to be offensive to the people we serve.  I am excited that Florida law has changed with the times, and APD is also updating its materials.  We are reviewing all aspects of what we do to delete the “R” word from our information.”

"We are pleased to see the name of this program being changed," said Deborah Linton, executive director of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  "It's especially rewarding for our self-advocates who spent the last three years working to remove the phrase 'mental retardation' from state statutes."

DDDP is operated by Sunland in Marianna. The program provides housing and competency training for up to 146 adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities from all 67 counties within Florida who have been charged with a felony.

Sunland Superintendent Merlin Roulhac said, “We have worked hard to remove the “R” word from all aspects of DDDP for the past several weeks. We want to show respect and consideration for the people who come into the program. I think it is important that all of our facilities are working to update our terminology to reflect the direction of the Legislature.”

APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit