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Despite the efforts of disability advocates, a new national poll finds use of the word “retard” remains commonplace and many Americans see nothing wrong with it. The Harris Poll survey, conducted between January 24 and February 8, 2017, found that 27 percent of teens and 38 percent of adults agreed that there was nothing wrong with describing a thing or situation as retarded. The Harris Poll suggests that there has been little change in American habits surrounding the use of the word even as Special Olympics, Best Buddies and other disability advocacy groups have worked in recent years to call attention to use of the word retard and its offensive connotations to those touched by disabilities.

Language affects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions. Respectful and inclusive language is essential for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. The R-word is hurtful, offensive, dehumanizing and derogatory for individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, and their friends.

We ask that you help us change the conversation and help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word from today’s popular youth vernacular and replace it with “respect.” We are asking for your help in creating a more accepting world for people with intellectual disabilities and all those people that may appear different, but have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.

This article was adapted from R-Word Spread the Word to End the Word and Disabilityscoop

(image description: a male with down syndrome is holding a sign that says Discrimination.)


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