Thursday, March 26, 2009

Erasing the 'R' Word

Last week a group of self-advocates--people with disabilities who are connected to YAI--launched a campaign to erase the "R" word.

For most people with any kind of disability, the "R" word (retard or retarded, to those not in the know) is extremely hurtful, demeaning and stigmatizing. Even when the word is used in casual conversation and not directed toward a person, it perpetuates terribly negative ideas about disability. For the members of the Self Advocate Association at YAI, having a disability isn't something negative--it's part of who they are and erasing the "R" word is important to them.

“The word retarded is hurtful and you should say disabled instead,” said Sandra, a self-advocate.

“Or just call us human beings because that’s what we all are,” added Robert.

“This campaign is important because it will open up dialogue with the community about the way people with disabilities feel and that will help dispel common stereotypes and build more tolerance and acceptance,” said Tom Ott, a YAI staff member who advises the Self Advocate Association.

The self-advocates have been delighted with the positive response they have received from the conversation-starting buttons that they made to kick off the campagin, which they plan to continue at YAI events.

When you support the Central Park Challenge, you are supporting the continuing empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities in your community!

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