Spread the word to end the word

Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and supporters to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word (retard) and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities. 


The campaign, created by youth, is intended to engage schools, organizations and communities to rally and pledge their support at and to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


The annual day of awareness is held the first Wednesday of every March. While most activities are centered on or near that annual day in March, people everywhere can help spread the word throughout their communities and schools year-round thru pledge drives, youth rallies and online activation.



Spread the Word to End the Word was founded by college students Soeren Palumbo (Notre Dame 2011) and Tim Shriver (Yale 2011) in 2009, and continues to be led by passionate young people, along with Special Olympics athletes and Best Buddies participants across the United States and in many other parts of the world.



Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the R-word.

They developed a series of templates and show in a practical way how people can join the pledge to end the word and spread the word to end the word on their own.

The materials consist of:

In that way, the campaign has a ampler reach.



Me Before You, but still without us ...

It is time for the movie, tv and media industry to embrace diversity.

The heated debate sparked by the release of the film “Me before You”” is a sign of changing times. By speaking up to reject the film’s premise and interpretation of us, persons with disabilities are sending a clear message to the movie industry and the arts, entertainment and media sector in general: your ideas about disability, and especially, about the place of persons with disabilities in society belong to a past that we want to leave behind.

Anyone is entitled to have opinions about all matters—that includes of course, disabilities–and we applaud the interest of non-disabled authors, directors and actors in disability issues. However, when those opinions become the standard bearer of the disability perspective, a profound problem of misrepresentation is revealed. Common stereotypes and fears that non-disabled persons have about becoming disabled are presented as actual perspectives of persons with disabilities, and our true voices and experiences become, once again, silent and invisible.

The play on common fears and misrepresentations of living with disabilities depicted in “Me Before You” is both a symptom and result of the remarkable absence of diversity in the industry at large. Persons with disabilities are among a long list of minorities, who are almost always interpreted by rather homogeneous casts and production teams. In 2004, the blockbuster “Million Dollar Baby”, that won an Oscar, also tackled assisted suicide, bringing tears to the eyes and millions to the producers. But it also brought to persons with disabilities another troubling example of how their lives are seen and imagined by others non-disabled.

Far from inspiring and educating, this “movie magic” propels yet another shallow, disempowered view of a community that, for too long now, has been at the receiving end of paternalistic compassion. Trapped between formulaic depictions of suicidal depression and “inspirational” athletes or heroes, the wide diversity of the community of persons with disabilities ends up reduced by the media to oversimplified, one-dimensional experiences. It is these depictions, not our real experiences as persons with disabilities, which feed the stigma around us. And we’ve had enough of them.

Throughout the industry’s history, TV and movie-makers resorted to costumes and effects to portray the others. Black people, native Americans, Arabs, Asians, persons with disabilities and a long list of others have been constructed over “mainstream” actors through often grotesque effects and make-up (remember blackface?) that revealed the profound stigma and discrimination that those communities faced in real life.

This year, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, we ask actors, producers and everyone in the movie industry across the world to learn from those early experiences and their damaging legacies. As other minorities made their way into mainstream roles and stories, we encourage industry leaders to open the door to the talent of actors, producers and authors with disabilities, their stories and perspectives. Recent successes of films and television work including persons with disabilities are truly encouraging, and a clear indicator that diversity not only makes TV and movies better–it also sells.

How the disability commuity has reacted to Me Before You

Not Dead Yet, a US, Canada, New Zealand and UK grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination called on persons with disabilities around the world to show their discontent with “Me Before You” negative and damaging depiction of disability.

Awareness campaigns of inclusion and acessibility


Good manners



End The Awkward’ Chat Up



  • Katie’s disability awareness video (How Katie got a Voice – child storybook)



  • Down syndrome

        Instituto MetaSocial (Brazil)

        Awareness videos –!campanhas-e-vdeos/c236o


  • A World of Wheelchairs (EDF ad – France)


  • Convention (in Portuguese)

  • Dear Future Mum (Down syndrome) – Coordown


  • Teen Disability Awareness – Famous disabled people and numbers in the UK


  • Moving Wheelchair ad (basketball game)


  • Carly’s cafe – Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes


  • Like everyone else by Disability Forum (autism, DS)


  • UNICEF – Awareness for teachers


  • People with different types of disability give tips on what to do around them – CPS Office of Diverse Learner (Chicago Public Schools)


  • ILO – The Ability Factor – International Labour Organizaton