Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Disability Community Thumbs Up to...

1. The Fallen Heroes Center

A world-class state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation facility for wounded warrior opened January 29, 2007. Center will serve military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Center will also serve military personnel and veterans severely injured in other operations and in the normal performance of their duties, combat and non-combat related."

2. End of use of term Mental Retardation by influential journal

After almost 5 decades of beingcalled Mental Retardation, this influential journal in special education changed names to Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities under the leadership of Editor Steven J. Taylor. The journal's name change is a microcosm of society's ongoing struggle to find a socially acceptable way of addressing persons with an intellectual disability. The new name comes close on the heels of the name change of its publisher, the American Association onIntellectual and Developmental Disabilities, formerly AAMR, the world's oldest organization representing professionals in developmental disabilities.

For all those who ask, "What's in a name?" Dr. Taylor says, "The term intellectual and developmental disabilities is simply less stigmatizing than mental retardation, mental deficiency, feeble-mindedness, idiocy, imbecility, and other terminology we have cast aside over the years." However, Taylor acknowledges that the crux of the issue here goes beyond language and terminology into the deeper issues of inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities in society. He explains, "Anyone whobelieves that we have finally arrived at the perfect terminology will be proven wrong by history. I am sure that at some future point we will find the phrase intellectual and developmental disabilities to be inadequate and demeaning."

3. Braille Making a Comeback

In March 2007, blind grade-school students from across New England will travelto Newton to test their skill in reading Braille. The competition, called the Braille Challenge, measures students' Braille reading speed and accuracy,with the top finishers in the regional events going on to national finals this June in Los Angeles.

The Braille Challenge is in its sixth year, and there's been a steady rise in the number of competitors. It's a sign of a growing resurgence in Braille, a writing system that not so long ago seemed headed toward extinction.

1 comment:

Arlene Wilson said...

Regarding the end of the use of Mental Retardation, this is to be lauded. One of the challenges of this decade has been the emphasis and push to have people first language adopted into common culture. The eradication of the negative language (imbecile, spastic, and now mental retardation) have gone a long way to improve the perception and potential of people with disabilities.