April 30, 2002 --
The organization once known as the Association for Retarded Citizens" has dropped the word "retarded" from its mission statement. The action came in April at the Arc's board meeting.
This is not the group's first effort to weed out the word. The national board "recognized that the word 'retarded' was hurtful to many of the people it represented," writes Dave Reynolds of InclusionDaily.com, and a few years ago "changed its name to 'The Arc of the United States.' Most -- but by no means all -- of the individual chapters across the country have followed suit." Some chapters gave the letters new meaning -- Nancy Smith, associate editor at the Stuart (Fla.) News, wrote April 24 that the group's name (at least the local association's version of it) stood for "Advocating for the Rights of the Challenged." (story online at http://www.tcpalm.com/tcp/the_news_ed_columnists/article/0,1651,TCP_1133_1106971,00.html )
At its Sunday, April 14 national board meeting, the group adopted a mission statement saying "The Arc of the United States works to include all children and adults with cognitive, intellectual, and developmental disabilities in every community."
Terry Boisot, a columnist who has a child with a disability, called it "a bold move" that was "not without consequences."
"In everyday life of everyday people, the word 'retarded' is used in the heat of an argument to humiliate another person, or in jest to give punch to a joke," wrote Boisot. "People don't want to be excluded, humiliated or the subject of jokes anymore.
"Unfortunately, the terms are deeply imbedded in public policy and in the minds of policymakers," she continued, adding that "The institutional bias of public policy and society's attitudes will never go away until the terms do." Boisot's column can be read at http://thearclink.org/news/article.asp?ID=401