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Changing the Way People Speak About Those with Disabilities

Published on March 7th, 2012

Millions of people around the world have disabilities. In the United States, many of those with disabilities are able to receive assistance through Social Security Disability Insurance. Despite the large number of people with disabilities and the services that are available to them, some people have not changed the way they treat people with disabilities. In particular, the language they use.

Today has been declared the “Spread the Word to End the Word” day. It was created in an effort to stop people from using the R-word in a derogatory way.

People may use the word “retarded” or “retard” to insult another person. Although they may not realize it at the time, that kind of language can be extremely hurtful to the 200 million people across the globe that have an intellectual or developmental disability.

“Spread the Word to End the Word” was first created in 2009 by a group of young people who participated in the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit. Some of the creators were youth with a disability and some without.

Despite what people may think, those with disabilities still enjoy and participate in many of the same activities as those without a disability. They go to school, have friends, watch movies, listen to music and contribute positively to society.

The young people that created this movement did so to change the way people think and speak about those with disabilities. Although many of us don’t intend for our speech to be harmful, paying closer attention to the words we use might prevent us from hurting someone in the future.

Source: The Washington Times, “Watch your language: Stop using the R-Word,” Laurie Edwards-Tate, Mar. 5, 2012

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