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The R-Word: As Cruel and Offensive as Any Slur

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

BISMARCK, N.D. - Across North Dakota 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 word "retarded" from their vocabulary, said Cheryl Hess, executive director of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities.

"I think that people underestimate the impact of words," she said. "I think people should be definitely more considerate regarding any words that they use when they're visiting with or talking to people."

About 90,000 North Dakotans age 5 and older live with various types of disabilities, including intellectual.

While today is focused on getting everyday people to stop using the "R-word," Hess said on a higher level, it's already been removed from the text of laws, both nationally and locally.

"In North Dakota," she said, "we've actually changed some of that language to replace that with 'intellectual or cognitive disabilities.' "

As part of today's efforts, people are being asked to pledge to eliminate the the "R-word" from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

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

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND