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10 February 2012

Dempsey: Citizens from St. Charles County Advocate at the State Capitol

One aspect of my job I particularly enjoy is meeting with constituents who stop by in the District or my Capitol office to discuss issues that are important to them. Since the legislative session began in January, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many individuals and groups with a wide range of concerns and interests, including realtors, firefighters, anesthetists, dental hygienists, students and business and civic leaders from my District.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to meet with constituents from People First of St. Charles County and learned about many of the exciting projects this organization is doing to promote self-advocacy, training, quality of life and equal rights for people with developmental disabilities.

This group brought to my attention an important Clean Up Your Language Campaign they are pursuing with the support of the local Developmental Disabilities Resource Board (DDRB) and the St. Charles County Coalition. Together, these organizations are working to focus attention on People First Language and inclusion for people with disabilities so they can live the life they want in the community.

The greatest obstacle facing individuals with disabilities is often old and inaccurate descriptors that perpetuate negative stereotypes and reinforce attitudinal barriers. As part of their Clean Up Your Language Campaign, People First of St. Charles County members are speaking to local municipalities and schools, fire and police stations and libraries to encourage speaking in a way that puts the person before the disability and describes what a person has, not what a person is. One example of People First Language is to say “person with a disability” instead of “disabled” or “handicapped.” This group of constituents also shared information on proposed legislation they are supporting on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Under our form of government, every Missourian has the right and opportunity to voice their views with their elected representatives. I know I appreciate the time my constituents take out of their busy lives to try and make a difference. I also value their input and draw many of my legislative proposals from our important discussions. As a matter of fact, just recently I filed Senate Bill 648, which would expand the list of qualified persons who may accompany temporary instruction driving permit holders who are under 16, at the suggestion of one of my constituents.

As always, I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your calls, emails, visits and letters. If you have any questions about issues or any legislation pending before the Missouri Senate, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

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