Monday, December 7, 2015

Universal Design for Writing About Humans

The National Center for Disability Journalism at Arizona State University has released a new style guide for writing about disability. Here's the press release. There's also a "words not to use" document.

As a disability-rights journalist, I like the NCDJ a lot. They do great work and this is an important guide. These tools are absolutely necessary. People want to know "the correct term."

Of course, correct terms aren't always possible. There continues to be a vibrant debate within the disability community on person-first vs identity-first language, for example. While I don't think it's possible, or desireable, to get past these lists - it's great for journalists and editors doing quick checks on appropriates style - the release has made me wish for a universal design for writing about other humans.

My principles:

Ask.
Listen.
Respect.
Don't assume I know the answers.
Check preferred pronouns.
Hold myself accountable.
Take criticism graciously.
Always try to do better.

If I were a clever chap, that would be an acrostic. Instead, it's just a set of aspirational goals for how to write about other humans.

What did I miss?

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