A bill known as Rosa's Law, which is currently before Congress, would change the term "mental retardation" or "mentally retarded" to "intellectual disabilities" in several federal statutes such as education and employment laws.
"We would hope the administration would commit to work with congressional sponsors to get it passed and commit to sign it when it hits the president's desk," Berns said.
For his part, the Special Olympics' Shriver recognizes that while episodes like this anger and offend many people, they also spark meaningful conversation.
Seckler said Shriver "invited Emanuel to take the R-word pledge at www.r-word.org and to join in the March 3, 2010, Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, as well as invite him to be a leader of change surrounding the pervasive and damaging use of the R-word."
This is not the first time someone who works in the White House has offended the community of people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Last March, President Obama joked on the "Tonight Show" that his notoriously bad bowling skills were "like the Special Olympics or something." Obama later called Shriver to apologize.
More than 7 million Americans live with intellectual or developmental disabilities, according to the Arc of the United States.