BOSTON (WWLP) – The Healey Administration is renaming one of its agencies to make it more inclusive.

Governor Maura Healey said that the state is deepening its commitment to a more inclusive Massachusetts at a news conference Thursday to announce she is filing legislation to change the name of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC).

The administration is proposing to rename the MRC to MassAbility. The Commission provides “services that break down barriers and empower people to live, to work, to thrive in Massachusetts.” Their programs “focus on training and employment, community living and disability determination for federal benefits.”

The purpose of the name change is to reduce stigma, break down barriers, and modernize language to make the commission more inclusive. The Governor said that rehabilitation is a term that is no longer relevant to the work of MassAbility, implying that rehabilitation means something needs to be fixed.

“We are saying as a state, we have a different vision, than a vision that’s going to uplift the abilities of all people in the state and as a state and as an administration, we have an opportunity to model that to support that, while we encourage everybody else to do the same,” said Healey.

Healey also said one of her goals is to make Massachusetts the most inclusive government and employer in the country. The goals of MassAbility will remain the same at the MCR.

“The name ‘MassAbility’ centers the strengths and capabilities of the community we serve, and it more fully captures the range of services that the agency offers. We are proposing this change to reduce stigma for the disability community and to help ensure that no one is left behind as we pursue a strong economy for everyone in this post-pandemic era,” said Governor Healey. “Our administration is grateful for the stakeholders who engaged with us during this process, and we look forward to working with our legislative partners to make it official.” 

“In renaming MRC to MassAbility, we are recognizing that everyone, regardless of disability, deserves to be able to live life on their own terms without barriers in the way,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “The name broadens the prospective on what this agency does, and why it matters, in a way that engages and excites participants, jobseekers with disabilities, team members, partners, and advocates across the state.” 

“The new name MassAbility reflects our agency’s mandate to promote pride and self-determination, rights and equal access,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh. “This evolution of their name mirrors the progress of the disability rights movement. What began as demands by veterans with disabilities for rehabilitation and vocational training became a worldwide movement to break down barriers to self-determination for all people with disabilities – not just in the workplace, but in every aspect of life.” 

“We want people to see the true agency today and where we are headed in the future – progressive, thoughtful, caring, and committed to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities,” said MRC Commissioner Toni Wolf. “Our work is both at the individual and societal level. One of the biggest barriers for people with disabilities is how society disables them. Now is the time to change the perception for those in the Commonwealth to view disability as an attitudinal, systemic, and communication barrier created by society. As the Healey-Driscoll Administration has made a significant commitment to equity, the change in language including the name of our organization, will shift the stigma for the disability community–and ensure individuals with disabilities are not left behind as we re-build the economy in this post-pandemic era.” 

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to reducing barriers to employment while also lifting up opportunities that will drive an inclusive workforce and workplace for our residents,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Lauren Jones. “The proposed change to ‘MassAbility’ recognizes the capabilities for a community we are dedicated to advancing job training and career pathways to help empower the skills for individuals with disabilities in our workforce today and in the future.” 

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