The “R” word is slowly being removed from organizational and government language. Delaware County’s department of Human Services has just made the change.
The word “retarded” was once used to describe a person with cognitive impairment.
Over time, the word took on a new meaning and became belittling and offensive. The preferred term “intellectual disability” has become more prevalent when referring to people and services.
Celia Feinstein of the Center for Disabilities at Temple University said it’s a slow process but there has been progress. She said the change is just the stroke of a pen.
“With state budgets being what they are, with the economy, the country being what it is, I’m not sure this is at the top of everyone’s agenda even though it is something so easy to most of us,” said Feinstein.
Delaware County has changed the name of the department from the Office of Mental Retardation to the Office of Intellectual Disability. It’s a move Feinstein applauds.
Executive Director Marianne Grace said the county council has been discussing this change for months.
”How you refer to people, how your classify people really does have impact,” she said. “I really think it’s kind of more societal changes and I think we government entities are really just catching up and changing our language to more appropriately reflect what we believe is the right thing to do.”
President Obama recently signed a law banning use of the word retardation in federal statutes.