Inclusive Language

Inclusive lan­guage:

  • Acknowledges diver­si­ty
  • Conveys respect to all people
  • Is sen­si­tive to differences
  • Promotes equal opportunities

Inclusive lan­guage prevents:

  • Marginalization
  • Offense
  • Misrepresentation
  • The per­pet­u­a­tion of stereotypes

Using inclu­sive lan­guage makes our con­tent more accu­rate and helps build trust with our audi­ence. While you may always have the best of inten­tions, one absent moment can leave a last­ing impact. Stay up to date on evolv­ing ter­mi­nol­o­gy and keep an eye out for old habits in the fol­low­ing categories.

Every per­son is a per­son, regard­less of how they inter­act with the world. Treat them like a per­son. Don’t define peo­ple by their dis­abil­i­ties or assume any­thing about a cer­tain condition.

That person is disabled.

That person is confined to a wheelchair.

That person is suffering from a disease.

That person is crazy.

Don't define people based on something they might have.

That is a person with disabilities.

That person uses a wheelchair.

That person has a disease.

That person is living with a mental illness.

Do state facts rather than assumptions.

Do you absolute­ly need to include this infor­ma­tion in your con­tent? Give it a sec­ond thought. If so, ask the per­son you’re refer­ring to for per­mis­sion and what terms they prefer.

  • Make con­tent gen­der neu­tral where pos­si­ble. (We whole-heart­ed­ly approve of using they” as singular!)
  • Never guess about age, gen­der, gen­der iden­ti­ty or sex­u­al orientation.
  • Be con­sis­tent when pre­sent­ing indi­vid­u­als with­in a piece of con­tent. If you ref­er­ence a male coach by last name only, do the same for a female coach.
  • Don’t make assump­tions about mar­i­tal or fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships when it comes to age or gen­der. Partner” is more inclu­sive than hus­band” or wife” — same with par­ent” instead of moth­er” or father.”
  • Avoid words that rein­force racial, eth­nic or reli­gious stereo­types (even if they appear to be positive).
  • Ask peo­ple how they iden­ti­fy them­selves and be aware of the com­plex­i­ties with­in racial, eth­nic and reli­gious identities.
  • When refer­ring to someone’s race or eth­nic­i­ty, use adjec­tives, not nouns (e.g., a Hispanic per­son,” not a Hispanic”). Make sure you also cap­i­tal­ize any racial identities.
  • Be pre­cise about sta­tis­ti­cal find­ings, even when they’re pos­i­tive. Relying on broad cat­e­go­riza­tions of peo­ple often over­sim­pli­fies find­ings and could be deceiving.
  • Be smart. Playful exam­ples could get you in trou­ble—humor should nev­er come at the cost of some­one else.
Last Updated: 27 May 2020 at 9:57am CDT