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Hoosiers Urged to Spread the Word, End the "R-Word"

PHOTO: Wed., Mar. 5 is National “Spread the Word to End the Word” Day, an effort to get people to stop using the word "retarded" when referring to individuals with disabilities. Photo credit: R-word
PHOTO: Wed., Mar. 5 is National “Spread the Word to End the Word” Day, an effort to get people to stop using the word "retarded" when referring to individuals with disabilities. Photo credit: R-word
March 5, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Across Indiana and the nation today, people are being asked to take time to stop and think about how their words may affect others.

This is "Spread the Word to End the Word" day, asking people to remove the "R-word" from their vocabulary, said Christine Dahlberg, deputy director of the Governor's Council on Disabilities.

"It's not about 'political correctness.' It's about respecting people who have been labeled," she said. "They are hurt by that term, and so are their friends and family. They think the 'R-word' should be 'respect.' "

Dahlberg said 13 percent of people in Indiana, or about 835,000, have some form of disability - and they are family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

While today is focused on getting everyday people to stop using the word, Dahlberg says the state also is building awareness about being inclusive of those with disabilities.

"We want communities and people in communities to rethink their attitudes, and consider how welcoming our communities are to people with disabilities," she said. "Is everyone encouraged to be involved in social activities and community events?"

March is Disability Awareness Month, and throughout the state, Dahlberg said, organizations, government groups and schools are holding awareness events and activities.

More information and resources can be found online at r-word.org and at IDaction.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN