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Indiana Residents Can Pledge to End the "R-Word"

GRAPHIC: This is Spread the Word to End the Word day, an effort to get all people to stop using the word 'retarded.' Graphic courtesy of Special Olympics.
GRAPHIC: This is Spread the Word to End the Word day, an effort to get all people to stop using the word 'retarded.' Graphic courtesy of Special Olympics.

March 4, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - People across Indiana and the nation are being asked to take time today to stop and think about how their words may disparage others - whether that is the intent or not. This is "Spread the Word to End the Word" day, when people are asked to remove the word "retarded" from their vocabulary.

Christine Dahlberg, deputy director of the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities, said that all people should speak and be spoken to with language that is respectful and inclusive.

" 'Retardation' and 'wheelchair-bound' - language like that diminishes the respect that people should have for people with disabilities, and it treats them like something that 'isn't the same as you and I,' " she said. "People with disabilities are far more alike than different."

Dahlberg said Hoosiers with intellectual disabilities and their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers deserve respect. She encouraged everyone to take today's pledge and refuse to use the "R-word."

"I would encourage people to post it on their Facebook pages and tweet about it," she said, "and certainly talk to their young adult and teenage children about why that is not a word they should use."

While today is focused on getting everyday people to stop using the "R-word," Dahlberg said there are efforts to end it on a higher level as well. Senate Bill 420, now in a state Senate committee, would replace the term "mental retardation" in all state statutes with "intellectual disability." The text of that bill is online at legiscan.com.

Details about the observance are at r-word.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN