How to Refer to The Arc, its Chapters, and Constituents

We want to thank our friends and supporters and take this opportunity to remind everyone that The Arc is NOT an acronym. The old acronym contains language that is hurtful to individuals with developmental disabilities, and because of that, The Arc formally changed its name in 1995 to reflect a more person-centered and respectful approach to our constituents and their families.

So, here are some things to keep in mind when referencing The Arc:

Always keep “The” and “Arc” together as a single name. We are “The Arc”, not an “Arc.” Therefore, affiliated chapters are not “Arcs;” they are “chapters of The Arc” or “The Arc’s chapters.” Other examples of appropriate use:

  • The Arc’s members or members of The Arc
  • The Arc’s Board of Directors
  • The Arc of the United States
  1. Always capitalize “T” in “The Arc.” Never capitalize “ARC” when referring to the organizational. Never refer to the organization as “The ARC.”
  2. When describing The Arc, use a descriptive sentence, not the old acronym. For example, use “The Arc of Moore County, which is an organization of and for people with intellectual, and developmental disabilities and their families.”
  3. Always use people first language. Never refer to our constituents as retarded, the disabled, handicapped, wheelchair-bound, the mentally retarded, etc. In fact, don’t use the word “retarded” at all. Legislation was enacted during President Obama’s first term in office to change the language in federal disability policy and legislation to “intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Also, only refer to a person’s disability when necessary or relevant. Examples:
    • people with cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities
    • person with autism
    • person who need supports and services
    • person who uses a wheelchair