Social Security ends use of the R-word

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Photo of Social Security Administration sign.

No More “R-Word”

Following through on its obligations under the 2010 Rosa’s law, which eliminated the use of the word “retarded” in federal law, the Social Security Administration finalized a rule August 1 replacing the words “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in its regulations.

“Advocates for individuals with intellectual disability have rightfully asserted that the term ‘mental retardation’ has negative connotations, has become offensive to many people, and often results in misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder and those who have it,” the Social Security Administration stated in the final rule, published in the Federal Register.

The rule will go into effect in 30 days. The rule garnered 76 public comments, 71 of which supported the change, according to a Disability Scoop article.

“Words represent you and your viewpoint, and we can all be happy that SSA is taking a step to change the words being used in their official documents to better promote the civil rights of individuals with I/DD,” the Arc said in a news release. “The R-word isn’t just a word, it is a stigmatizing term that the disability community has been fighting against for years, and this week we are a step closer to banishing it from our government and our society.”

More information about people-first language and the “R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign can be read here.