Using inclusive language

Summary of topics

  • Person first language
  • Positive language
  • Inclusive imagery

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Language is our main form of communication and plays a powerful role in creating an environment that values diversity in the work place. Here are some simple tips for inclusive language. Many people with disability prefer person first tense that focus on the person rather than the disability. It is important to use everyday positive language and to avoid cliches or victim terms, such as special, amazing, or inspirational. Negative terms such as invalid, handicapped, or wheelchair bound should also be avoided. It's better to be factual and just say a person who uses a wheelchair. In and around the workplace, use terms such as accessibility or inclusion instead of specifically referring to disability. Some people with disabilities strongly embrace specific terms as part of their identity. Language is personal and it's okay to ask people what they prefer. Remember that people with disability are also customers. When your organisation reflects the diversity of the wider community it helps grow your customer base. Another effective way to help people with disability feel like valued employees or customers, is through the use of inclusive imagery. Using models with disability in your corporate photograph library will convey a clear message that you genuinely care about representation. Used constructively, the use of inclusive language in imagery in your workplace can help to avoid negative stereotypes and create a respectful and supportive work environment.

The way we communicate has a big impact on how well people with disability can integrate at work, and even in everyday life. Making sure we are being polite, respectful and considerate is key to building an inclusive workplace.

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