Written By: Elizabeth McMahon, MA, CCC-SLP
In February 2009, the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign was created by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies. This campaign has been influential in using people first language and to show others how hurtful the “r-word” is to those with special needs. March 6, 2013 is the annual day of awareness and there are special events going on all over the country. Please check with organizations in your community for more information. In Memphis, Best Buddies and DSAM will be at the Old Navy at Wolfchase to spread awareness and encourage people to sign the pledge banner.
In October 2010, Rosa’s Law removed the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policies and replaces them with people first language such as “individuals with an intellectual disability.” This law is a significant milestone to promote people first language and acceptance for all people with intellectual disabilities. Since then, several states have also updated their policies and have implemented positive, people first language.
Using positive language is important. The way we talk and the words we choose say a lot about what we think and value. As a society, we must move forward with our thinking and views of those with special needs. We must pledge to be advocates for the acceptance and equal rights for everyone. We must work towards creating an environment with positive language, an environment of love and acceptance for everyone. Take the pledge with me. Spread the word to end the word in order to show inclusion, respect, unity, dignity, acceptance, friendship and unconditional love.