Letter to the Editor: Campaign to end ‘R’ word serves as starting point toward creating accepting attitudes

Published by adviser, Author: The Rocket, Date: April 3, 2014
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Spread The Word to End the Word: A Letter to the Editor

In response to Vincent Scalamogna’s Commentary “Students signing petitions to end words will not evoke social change”

As an advocate for individuals with disability, I would personally like to thank Vince Scalamogna for sharing his opinion on intellectual disability.  His attempt to discredit “End The R-Word Day,” ultimately displays how uneducated people are about disabilities.  I am grateful for the opportunity to educate those who are ignorant to the issues around them.

As Scalamogna pointed out, students signing a petition to end words is not effective. End the R-Word day is not a petition, it is a nation wide movement to raise awareness of an issue that impacts approximately 6.5 million people in the United States who are diagnosed with an intellectual disability according to National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.  However according to Vince Scalamogna’s article, this population is not “noteworthy.”

As stated on R-word.org: “Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.  Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.  Pledge today to use respectful, people-first language.”  An R-word I would personally like to see in Vince Scalamogna’s vocabulary is ‘Respect;’ Respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities, respect for individuals advocating for those with disabilities and respect for himself.  Scalamogna disrespected himself by writing an article with no facts and no credible support.  It is ironic that Scalamogna would be willing to sign a petition to promote education when he could not even take the time to educate himself on a topic he chose to attack.

Scalamogna’s one credible argument is that “discussing mental retardation in history” is a correct use of the terminology.  However use of this terminology is only correct when discussing past medical disorders because in January 2013 U.S. Legislators wrote into law the replacement of the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.”

“I have noticed no progress,” states Scalamogna when referring to fellow students’ attempts to end the use of words that offend others.  If he would take the time to speak to the hundreds of other students on campus, he would realize that there is progress being made.

Speak to the Therapeutic Recreation department, the Education department, the Adapted Physical Activities program or any student on campus who has a family member or a friend with a disability and you will see that as we raise awareness of an issue, we make progress.

I respectfully ask Vince Scalamogna to educate himself on issues before writing articles attacking the efforts of individuals trying to evoke change.  I would like to request that a retraction of Scalamogna’s article and an apology be printed in the next issue of The Rocket.  I ask that everyone think before they speak and remember the biggest disability in life is a bad attitude.

Respectfully signed, Amber Bowser

Sophomore therapeutic recreation major and proud 

advocate for individuals with disability

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