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March 10, 2012

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Leslie B

OK, I signed the pledge. But somehow I was more comfortable with Nancy Mairs proud embrace of the word "cripple" as a self-descriptor* or the use of a capitalized "Deaf" to denote the culture of people without hearing. Semantics do matter, and it's empowering when people can have control over the labels that other people apply to them. However, look closely at "retarded" (or "mentally retarded") and "intellectual disability". The former phrase currently carries the negative weight of an eternity of playground taunts, but "intellectual disability" is not any less a label implying sub-average function when compared to average abilities, and I suspect it will be just as reviled by the people who wear the label once the phrase hits the asphalt of your local elementary school.
* http://www.planet-of-the-blind.com/2011/10/essay-on-the-politics-of-english-clarity-and-them-folk-with-disabilities-.html

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