Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for March, 2009

‘Ban the word’ goes nationwide

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

From the Associated Press:

Across the country, from Florida to Alaska, people rallied and gathered to sign pledges to banish the casual insult term “retard” from their vocabulary. The term derives from an out-of-favor medical term and has long been considered inappropriate. Among those who endorsed the Special Olympics campaign were governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Brad Henry of Oklahoma and Chet Culver of Iowa.

“It’s insulting, it’s painful and it hurts people,” said actor Eddie Barbanell, who has Down syndrome and appeared in the movie “The Ringer.” “Get that word out! End the word! Bury it!”

See also:

Fighting the R-Word — By in the Chicago Tribune

Students want derogatory term for disabled out of conversations — Orange County Register

Opinion: Please quit using hateful R-word — Des Moines Register

Special Oympics seeks to end use of hurtful R-word — KCAL-TV, Los Angeles (with video)

Poll finds broad use of insult ‘retard;’ youths say they don’t use it

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in conjunction with Harris Interactive, found that the use of the word “retard” as an insult is pervasive among America’s youth. From PR Newswire.com.

In a sample of over 1000 young people nationwide, it was found that 92 percent had heard the word used; 86 percent had heard it from one of their peers. Yet only 20 percent reported having used the word themselves. Only 36 percent of those surveyed said they had heard the word used to refer to a person who actually has an intellectual disability.

The survey was conducted in coordination with Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End The Word Campaign,” which is aimed at building acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities and ending the use of the word “retard” as an insult.

“The campaign is more than just getting people to stop using a word; it’s about changing attitudes and it’s about treating people with intellectual disabilities with respect,” said Gary N. Siperstein, Ph.D., director of the Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center and Professor at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies.

Tim Shriver: ‘An invitation to humiliation-free living’

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Tim Shriver, Washington Post photoAt  the Washington Post’s “On Faith” site, Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver kicks off  “Spread the Word to End the Word.” The campaign promotes acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities and encourages people to stop using the derogatory word “retard.”

An excerpt:

…  humiliation, regardless of intent, is painful. And for some reason, when this community comes knocking on the door of rights and dignity, a huge swath of the general public says “no.” Free speech is sacred! Stop the thought police!

But the movement perseveres. Our version of civil rights soldiers, young people with and without intellectual disabilities, are challenging people to change.

… It’s not an attack on free speech but an invitation to humiliation- free living. The law won’t tell you what you can and can’t say, but your neighbor can tell you what hurts. After that, it’s up to you.

Marketers reach out to people with disabilities

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Ad campaign, CNN graphic from Special OlympicsFrom the New York Times:

Advertisers are increasingly making an effort to reach out to people with disabilities, even as the economic downturn is cutting into revenues. The idea: To connect with customers in a way that is seen as more altruistic and less mercenary.

Among recently announced charitable partnerships:

  • Advertising agency BBDO Worldwide is working to support a Special Olympics campaign to end the derogatory use of forms of the word “retard.” The campaign, called “Spread the Word to End the Word,” kicks off today. Posters for the campaign link the word to familiar slurs about race, sexual orientation, and to offensive phrases about blacks, Jews, gays and women.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us are helping raise money for Autism Speaks.
  • American Airlines and the American Association of People With Disabilities have announced plans to honor television commercials that feature positive portrayals of people with disabilities.

‘Stand tall — together’

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Text of remarks

by Patricia E. Bauer

delivered at the annual conference of

the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City

March 28, 2009

It’s more than a quarter of a century now since Margaret arrived and our family’s journey began, a journey that started in isolation, seemingly without history. As far as we knew then, we were the first couple in the history of the world whose utterly adorable baby had gotten a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

My husband and I knew nothing about disability then and knew pretty much no one who did, and somehow we instinctively thought without discussing it that we wanted to keep it that way. We didn’t know what we were up against, and we didn’t want to know, for fear that knowing might make us fail.

Later I learned that some doctors then were withholding routine medical treatment from infants like mine. In the month that Margaret was born, the great legal minds of the day were debating whether or not that was okay. Friends of mine at the newspaper were following this debate, I found out later, but couldn’t bring themselves to tell me.

The memories of those dark days fall away when I come into bright rooms like this one, full of hope and good cheer and the knowledge of allies made and battles won. I am humbled by your enthusiasm and encouraged by your shared sense of commitment. I salute your imagination, your willingness to learn and your generosity of spirit. Yes, indeed, we have come a long, long way in a very short time within the span of Margaret’s life, and of mine.

Of course, the tricky thing about being part of the disability community is that you don’t know you’re a member of the club until one astonishing day when it all becomes clear, and you realize that pretty much everybody ends up in the club sooner or later. But it took me a while to figure it out.

For the first decades of my life, I wasn’t consciously aware of what was going on. I didn’t know, for example, that the average lifespan of a person with Down syndrome in the year I was born was something like fifteen years, or that many – maybe most — people with Down syndrome in those days were sent off to live in institutions that were more like prisons.

One of those institutions was just a few miles from my home, a hulking stone pile behind huge metal gates. We kids held our breath whenever we rode past. (more…)

Op-ed: Dale juggling two White House jobs?

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Writing in the Chicago Reader, Deanna Isaacs raises red flags about a New York Times report that Kareem Dale, President Obama’s special assistant for disability policy, has been chosen to be the president’s staff adviser on arts and culture. The story “left jaws dropping in both the arts and disability camps,” she said.

An excerpt:

Andrew Imparato, president of the D.C.-based American Association of People With Disabilities, said his group wondered “What does this mean?” when they saw the Times story, and sought assurance from Dale that he’ll still be doing the disability job. He responded by e-mail that he would. “We’re happy that he’s continuing with the disability position,” Imparato said, but added that double duty could be “a mixed bag.” While it might offer a chance to integrate some areas of overlap, “it could also be a distraction.” With the disability issues alone, Imparato said, “he’s got a pretty full plate.”

… [Americans for the Arts spokesperson Liz Bartolomeo said, “We still believe President Obama will be the arts president.” If that’s the case, Mr. President, then unlike the other situations you’re facing, this is easy. Disability and the arts each need their own point person. Fix it.

Op-ed: Banish the word ‘retard’

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Maria King Carroll calls for an end to the casual use of the word “retard” as an insult.  An excerpt:

Banishing this particular word is only one step in the process of humanizing the world for people with disabilities. Many people were offended by President Barack Obama’s unfortunate remark about his bowling game being suitable for the Special Olympics. That someone who is as smart, thoughtful and compassionate as the president could make a comment like this illustrates the work we need to do. Because for many, making fun of people with intellectual disabilities is something they don’t think about; it’s still OK.

Maria King Carroll lives in West Peoria, IL, and has a brother with intellectual disabilities. Her column previews the March 31 launch of the Special Olympics ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ campaign.


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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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