Press Release

Press Release  Governor Healey Files Legislation to Change Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s Name to ‘MassAbility’

The Healey-Driscoll Administration filed legislation to rename the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to MassAbility to better represent the agency’s role in helping those with disabilities gain autonomy and independence.
For immediate release:
11/02/2023
  • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

Media Contact for Governor Healey Files Legislation to Change Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s Name to ‘MassAbility’

Karissa Hand, Press Secretary

six women stand on stage

BostonToday, the Healey-Driscoll Administration filed legislation to rename the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to MassAbility to better represent the agency’s role in helping those with disabilities gain autonomy and independence. The proposed name change is part of the office’s ongoing efforts to expand its reach and usher in a new, more expansive model for disability employment services and independent living.   

The name was selected following significant research, focus groups, surveys, and conversations with the disability community, businesses, providers, and advocacy organizations. With this proposal, Massachusetts joins a national trend moving away from the term “rehabilitation,” and instead uses terminology that centers the skills and strengths of people with disabilities.  

“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.”  

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provides services that break down barriers and empower people with disabilities to live life on their own terms. The agency supports people with physical, cognitive, intellectual or mental health conditions throughout the job-seeking and employment process and offers a range of programs focused on job training and employment, independent community living, and disability determination for federal benefit programs. 

 

Statements of Support 

Kristen McCosh, City of Boston Disability Commissioner: 

“The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has a longstanding partnership with the City of Boston that supports residents with disabilities who are seeking employment. We know that language matters, and that it evolves over time. I applaud the agency's commitment to ensuring that its new name conveys inclusion and respect for people with disabilities.” 

Colleen Holmes, President & CEO, Viability, Inc.: 

“In the name ‘MassAbility,’ I hear an unequivocal proclamation that every one of us has capabilities of value; that what is broken are systems and perceptions built on bias, and not the individual with a disability. The new brand undercuts the falsehood that a disability is all there is to know about a person with a disability and reinforces the truth – a disability is a single aspect of multidimensional identities. I applaud Governor Healey and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commissioner Toni Wolf for their leadership furthering dignity and equity.”  

Meg Coffin, CEO, Center for Living & Working, Inc.: 

“The Center for Living & Working supports this name change. MassAbility reflects the spirit of the independent living movement and the fact the people living with a disability are able to live full lives.”    

Richard Ackerman, Vice President, Educational Services, Red River: 

“The new name MassAbility is a more empowering nomenclature to better support people with disabilities and continue changing perceptions community-wide. The purpose of this organization is to shine a light on the 'mass abilities' this community brings and the equal rights and access they should have. This name is just one more critical step toward removing long-standing barriers and reflecting the intrinsic value of this community in every aspect of life.” 

Roxi Harvey, Family Inclusion Ambassador: 

“The name change from Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to MassAbility begins the systemic transformation that is needed to focus on the strengths and skills that individuals with diverse abilities bring to Massachusetts communities and employers. Individuals with disabilities and their families need to be inclusive members of every decision made in Massachusetts and beyond moving forward. MassAbility welcomes individuals with disabilities and their families to sit at the table, have agency and choice.”    

George Farrington, Disability Inclusion Leader: 

“The new name says it all. I’m a brain tumor and brain injury survivor, and I belong to the New Start Brain Injury Community Center, which is a program that falls under the vast umbrella of MassAbility. Thanks to New Start, I realized that I still had the ability to live a meaningful life and the ability to still chase my dreams. One of which is furthering awareness and helping better the lives of people with disabilities. This name change puts the emphasis more on people with disabilities actual abilities, which is a sign that the state is ready and willing to do the same thing now and for generations to come.” 

Destiny Maxam, Disability Inclusion Leader: 

Having my voice truly heard and knowing my opinion makes a difference have restored my confidence in not only myself but in this administration. To know they are listening to the disability community as a whole and taking our ideas and acting on them has been assuring. I’m looking forward to a brighter future knowing my voice has an impact.” 

Kristen Flynn Family Inclusion Ambassador: 

“The name change to MassAbility is the public facing representation of the commitment of this agency to continue to ask questions and challenge the norms in support of all people with disabilities. It has been an exciting time to be part of the progressive effort that MassAbility is making as Massachusetts continues to be a leader in disability advocacy and inclusion.”   

Jaemilly Torres, Disability Inclusion Leader: 

MassAbility, I love it! We are able to still feel love, support, and respect. Focus on the positive. Focus on what we can do. Don't focus on the things we need to fix. We still can smile. We do have hearts.” 

Liz Topaz, Family Inclusion Ambassador: 

“According to the dictionary, the word ‘rehabilitate’ literally means ‘to help a person who has acquired a disability to readapt.’” My young adult son has had his disabilities since birth; our family can't relate to readapting when our son needs to acquire work skills for the first time. This new name puts the spotlight on his many skills instead of focusing on the things he can't do.” 

Gillan Wang, Family Inclusion Ambassador: 

“I am excited about this rebranding as it reflects the renewed energy and commitment within the agency to make improvements to the way it supports families. As far as the name itself, the emphasis on ABILITY seems to better convey the intention of supporting individuals and families where they are and to empower them to live their best lives.” 

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Media Contact for Governor Healey Files Legislation to Change Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s Name to ‘MassAbility’

  • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission 

    The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) provides services that break down barriers and empower people with disabilities to live life in their own terms. Our programs focus on training and employment, community living, and disability determination for federal benefit programs. We are change agents and community builders. And we put the people we serve at the heart of everything we do.
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