Florida Becomes 40th State to End the “R-Word”

The video for this lesson contains time sensitive information. Developments in the project discussed in the video which occurred after the release date are not covered in the video or this curriculum. See “Follow-Up Assignments” for a way of addressing this fact in your lesson plan.

Lesson Title

Florida Becomes 40th State to End the “R-Word”

Video title, link and release date;

Florida Becomes 40th State to End the “R-Word”, July 13, 2013

Video Length

Two minutes and seventeen seconds

Grade Level

High School & Above


  • Florida unanimously passed a law that replaces the word “retarded” with “intellectual disability” in its state laws, which makes Florida the 40th state to eliminate the use of a word that has long been considered derogatory and offensive to the disability community.
  • This action follows in the wake of previous legislative activity addressing federal lexicon, or vocabulary, alterations to terms relating to people with disabilities.
  • The Mentally Retarded Defendant Program–one of Florida’s Programs–will now be progressively renamed the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program, an action that The Arc of Florida claims they are pleased to see.

Review Questions

1.  What action did President Obama take in reforming the federal lexicon? When?


2. What is the new name of the Florida Program?


3.  Florida included, how many states have now eliminated the use of the word “retarded” form state laws?


Freewriting “Journal” Prompt

What about this report do you have questions about?

What other terms can you think of that were once medically or politically “correct”, but over time were changed or used in other ways, which made the word offensive? Why do you think language changes like these happen–what do you think drives people to gradually start using terms in a negative or derogatory way?

What do you want to know more about?