Thursday, February 21, 2013

That word. You know what it is.

The r-word.  Why would you use it?  Think you are funny?  Have you ever really thought about it, that word?  Using it is just wrong.


Help me to spread the word to end the word.  Let's all end using the r-word.

Will you take the pledge and join me?

WHY PLEDGE: What is the R-word and Why is its Use a Problem?

“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” – Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. 
The R-word is the word 'retard(ed)'. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. The R-word is hate speech. See why supporters think the R-Word is hurtful when used in jokes or as part of everyday speech. More on Effects >

How "retardation" went from a clinical description to a word of derision

When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity. 

History of the Campaign


In response to Special Olympics athletes’ call for change, the Special Olympics International Board of Directors adopts a resolution to update the movement’s terminology from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disabilities."


Special Olympics launches the website to combat the inappropriate use of the R-word in common usage.

August 14, 2008

Special Olympics, Best Buddies International and a coalition of national disability organizations, mobilizes a grass-roots campaign against "Tropic Thunder," a DreamWorks production. Special Olympics athletes joined protestors at demonstrations in Los Angeles, California, Washington D.C., New York City, Delaware, Massachusetts, Missouri and Texas. "Tropic Thunder," marketed as a satire about Hollywood actors and the movie industry in general, contains scenes promoting the idea that a "retard" is funny.
View the complete history of the campaign

Why "intellectual disability" is replacing "mental retardation"

The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. Mental retardation was what doctors, psychologists, and other professionals used to describe people with significant intellectual impairment. Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful.
Because of this, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and the greater disability community prefers to focus on people and their gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes. As language has evolved, Special Olympics and Best Buddies have updated their official terminology to use standard, people-first language that is more acceptable to constituents.

Rosa’s Law and Legislature Challenges

On October 5, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama officially signed bill S. 2781 into federal law. Rosa’s Law, which takes its name and inspiration for 9-year-old Rosa Marcellino, removes the terms “mental retardation” and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.” The signing of Rosa’s Law is a significant milestone in establishing dignity, inclusion and respect for all people with intellectual disabilities
More on Rosa's Law >

Be gentle.


  1. I'm not a fan, once had a lecture where the lecturer recited the word with ref to people who have mental health challenges. Tutor was properly embarrassed and apologised for him, I think he got a bit of a roasting. A person is not disabled, it is society that disables them. I have ASD, a cognitive problem, it affects how my brain processes information, I do not suffer from mental retardation, to be truthful do not even like the term mental health. I'm a person with a name.


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