Diversity Why talk about words?
Sticks and stones are not the only things that may be hurtful. Words can significantly impact our interaction with others. Regardless of our motive and intentions, they may harm or enhance dialogue.
Inclusive language furthers social and cultural diversity in a positive way and reduces negative stereotypes. People feel included when we adopt the correct words in conversation. Simply, the language we use can help build a stronger community and further our ability to thrive in an increasingly diverse environment.
Learning about the most current terminology also encourages a more productive dialogue about diversity and inclusion. Listening is an essential part of any successful dialogue—particularly when difficult or emotionally-charged issues are discussed. Good listeners focus on understanding the other person’s viewpoint rather than planning their response.
Begin with the basics
BIAS—A bias is a preference for or against something or someone whether conscious or unconscious.
DIVERSITY—A variety in group presence and interactions based on a broad spectrum of demographic, cultural, personal experiences and philosophical differences.
INCLUSION—The intentional action of including groups in society who may otherwise be vulnerable, excluded or marginalized.
MINORITY—A small group or category within a larger demographic.
UNDERREPRESENTED—Refers to groups of people who traditionally and currently are represented in lower proportional numbers to dominant groups.
ABLEISM—Discrimination or prejudice, whether intentional or unintentional, against persons with disabilities.
ACCOMMODATION—An accommodation is a modification, whether in the classroom or in the workplace, that ensures that a person with a disability can participate on a “level playing field” as those without disabilities.
ACCESSIBLE—Accessible spaces and programs are made to be inclusive of persons with disabilities, and generally don’t require accommodations.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT—Federal civil rights law designed to ensure that persons with disabilities are fully included in society and protected from discrimination.
DISABILITY—A physical or mental condition that affects major life activities.
PERSON FIRST LANGUAGE—Use person-first language when speaking about persons with disabilities. Person first language, such as saying “Person with a Disability” rather than using expressions like “handicapped,” or “challenged,” emphasizes that the person is more important than the disability.
PERSON ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM—Refers to a person who identifies as having a form of autism or Asperger’s. Some persons on the spectrum prefer to say “Autistic Person.”
PERSON WITH A COGNITIVE OR INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY—Refers to persons with various disabilities affecting the brain. This broad category includes, for example, persons with ADHD, and persons with Dyslexia. Many of these disabilities are also referred to as “learning disabilities.”
PERSON WITH A HEARING DISABILITY—Refers to a person who has a disability affecting hearing. Some persons with hearing disabilities, particularly those who speak sign language, prefer the term “Deaf Person” and view their disability as a cultural identity.
PERSON WITH A PHYSICAL DISABILITY—General term which refers to persons with various disabilities affecting functions of the body.
PERSON WITH A PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITY—Refers to a person with a disability that involves emotional and/or psychological issues. Examples include persons with anxiety disorders and persons with depression. Use this term rather than saying that someone is “mentally ill” or has a “mental illness.”
PERSON WITH A VISION DISABILITY—Refers to a person with low vision or a person who is Blind. Many persons who are Blind see their disability as a cultural identity and thus prefer to call themselves “Blind.”
WHEELCHAIR USER—Refers to a person who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Use this term rather than saying a person is “wheelchair- bound” or “confined to a wheelchair