Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Language We Use Matters

Ann Coulter has been criticized for using the word "retarded" on two recent occasions. The language we use does reflect our personal values and the values of a society. The Rosa Law which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 removes the term Mental Retardation from the health and education code and replaces it with intellectual impairment. The DSM V (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association) which is due out in 2013 is changing the diagnostic category of Mental Retardation to Intellectual Developmental Disorder. The inclusion and respect of all members of society is a value which must be explicitly stated, acted upon and embraced. This means speaking out when a group has been minimized based on arbitrary traits which give permission to treat them differently, view them with less value and dismiss their contributions and needs.

As to whether or not we need to care about the votes of people with disabilities, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Labels do not allow others to silence our voices. As citizens of the United States we stand together. That is where our strength comes from. We do not have to agree on every issue but each voice has value. We must remain united on this issue and no one has the right to put a wedge between us.

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