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National campaign urges end to 'R-word'

Posted April 21
Updated April 23

— The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign asks people to pledge to never use the word the R-word, referring to “retard” or “retardation” to describe anyone, especially when it is used as an insult.

R-word activists argue the word is exclusive, offensive and derogatory. Bitty Wright, coffee shop inspiration Bitty & Beau's Coffee: Beyond the coffee shop

Advocates say it is a starting point for creating more accepting attitudes for all people and ending all hate speech.

The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign launched at the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit in 2009.

"Everyone has a gift, and the world would be better off if we recognized it," said Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics.

On October 5, 2010, former President Barack Obama signed “Rosa’s Law,” which was inspired by 9-year-old Rosa Marcellino. The law removes the term “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy.

The terms were replaced with “intellectual disability” and “individual intellectual disability.” Supporters said the law established dignity, inclusion and respect for all people.

The law also incorporated person-first language into federal policy. Person-first language refers to describing someone a person before their condition or disability: a "person with autism" or "a person with Down syndrome" versus "an autistic child" or "a Down syndrome person."

The "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign now works to remove the word form everyday speech and insults, educating people on why language matters.

Take the pledge. Spread love.

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