No, it is not okay to describe something as “retarded”

When is it okay to use the r-word? No matter the social context or the medical setting, the answer is always the same: never.

I have written on this topic before, and I will continue to offer information to social movements to end the use of the r-word until is it completely eliminated.

Some people may argue that use of the r-word is acceptable in a medical context. However, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of the Federal Register, use of the r-word as a reference to a potential learning disability has been officially replaced with the term “intellectual disability” due to the negative connotations surrounding use of the r-word.

The news and media company, Mic, has released a video reiterating the importance of not using the r-word. In the video below, they examine the social associations with common use of the r-word, as well as the impact it may have on people with disabilities. As stated by Mic, common social uses of the r-word include describing something that is inadequate, that does not function correctly, or that is wild or difficult to understand. It is used negatively, and often as ridicule. And for people with disabilities, use of the r-word is often hurtful and disrespectful. Cited in the video is the statistic that, according to Google’s Consumer Survey, the most common association people have in relation to the r-word is, in fact, people with disabilities. In the United States, 6.5 million people have an intellectual disability, and the implications for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities must be considered before using the r-word in a social context.

While I have written about this before, I feel that I cannot say it enough: It is beyond time to eliminate the r-word from our collective vocabulary. As one of the individuals interviewed in the video states, “People with developmental disabilities have feelings; they can be hurt and you need to, just maybe, get to know them.”

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of DisAbility Rights Galaxy.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.