DEV Community

Discussion on: DEV Community: Ableist Language & Maintaining an Inclusive Environment

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

With you in spirit...but

While I am sure this is well intentioned and I am 100% behind you "in spirit" I have to say I think this needs a lot more thought.

Sure there are some "do not use" words and some that are preferred in a professional setting but it is ignorant to say what terms are acceptable in other Countries on a multi-national site.

What is acceptable language in the UK may be frowned upon in India, or Germany, or France or even America.

But if we ignore the fact that we are playing by American rules on acceptable language (fair enough, it is your site)...that glossary of terms you suggest we use has to be one of the worst I have ever seen.

The suggested glossary of terms....is not good!

A lot of the alternatives don't make sense, some of them are even more offensive (and that isn't a Country / culture thing as far as I am aware)!

I really hope you aren't going to use that as the yard stick for language used on the site as that is worrying. Some of the worst examples (there are a load of other "not great" examples, but these are just wrong) are as follows:

"Daft" - they suggest "dense" - so instead of a term that people just think of as silliness it is suggested we use a term that means stupid, unintelligent.

"deaf-mute" - use "Deaf person, nonspeaking Deaf person, signing Deaf person, hard of hearing person, DeafBlind person, ASL user, ASL speaker, signer"

Do you know how many of those suggested alternatives actually correspond to someone who is deaf-mute, one, "nonspeaking Deaf person".

"DeafBlind" has absolutely nothing to do with the ability to talk and is completely different to someone who is unable to talk or has a severe speech impairment. And people who can sign are often able to talk so the other terms are not descriptive enough. It shows a complete lack of understanding that any of these terms were suggested.

If you want a term to use, "non verbal" is the accepted term for someone who is mute or has trouble speaking (but yet again that is in the UK, I cannot assume that is preferred in America, Russia, Italy etc but it does feel very neutral language so I would imagine it works in other Countries too).

"idiotic" - I mean, are we really going to get to a place where I can't call someone an idiot for doing something stupid...seems a little bit too far (yet again, may be a cultural thing)

imbecile - instead use "dipshit"...I don't think I need to point out why this is not better.

"Morbidly obese" - they suggest "fat person". I think I will use a medical term instead of just being deliberately offensive. If somebody is classed as disabled purely due to their weight, they are "morbidly obese" and that is the medical condition that is related to their disability.

and my personal favourite...

"Special Needs" - which is the preferred term in the UK for children who have a learning impairment.

Please find a better source of terms and alternatives that are acceptable

Also I hope those points raised show that you cannot police ableism without context and you can't possibly have cultural context on a site like this. ​

As a final point on cultural differences and where the line should be drawn "This week has been crazy!" is considered ableist language by Eevis in their article...I think it would be a stretch to include that, I have used that term while speaking at an event on mental health...pretty sure nobody thought anything of it...but that is my opinion, maybe in America that would be entirely ableist.

You have already been ableist in this article!

You yourself have already made a mistake that needs fixing, in fact it is possibly the worst example of ableism I have seen on the site (no really, I am not joking!).

"more typical abilities". Just read that back, you are essentially saying that a person with a disability doesn't have typical abilities. A disability often does not affect a person's ability to do something, just the way in which they do it.

Just use "non disabled person" and stop dancing around it. I would imagine that term is acceptable across the world.

And if you can so easily end up as being ableist, what chance do most people have who won't have thought about their language as much as you have?

Suggestion

If you really must try and moderate this, please provide a list of terms that people should not use to describe other people.

So for example "I have had a crazy week"...may be perfectly acceptable language, "I am absolutely crazy about him / her / them"...also acceptable.

But "what, are you crazy?" when directed at a person or a group...sure, make that a banned term.

Then have a special list of terms to never use (except when educating others on unacceptable language) such as "retarded", "spaz" etc. which are pretty much universally considered derogatory.

That way there is no argument about culture, no arguments on what is acceptable.

Create some guidelines, add to them as other phrases come to light.

Super easy solution (oh wait, we can't say things are easy as that is condescending...uhhm, "should hopefully cause no bother to implement")...sorry my sarcastic nature was bound to slip out at some point πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

How can you possibly police this effectively without set rules?

As a final thought experiment on how on Earth you would enforce ableism without defined rules:

If someone has a cognitive impairment and continues to call people who use a wheelchair "cripples" as that is the word that works for them...where do you fall? On the side of the people who use a wheelchair or on the side of the person with a cognitive impairment?

Or as a much more likely scenario, what if I write an article that is acceptable to a UK audience and cross post it here and use a term you deem inappropriate. Are you expecting me to create a special version of the article just for dev.to with words replaced? That seems like a good way to limit the people talking about accessibility here (and there are already so few of us).

My personal thoughts

On a personal note I really think that trying to police albeism is a terrible idea and I am very much against policing anything other than offensive language directed at an individual or a group.

Why? It is hard enough getting people to talk about disability and inclusion, we don't need to put barriers in the way that put people off contributing to a conversation.

I would hope the fact that I spend every day talking about accessibility and inclusion as a profession would have some weight when considering the points I make as i am sure they go very much against the DEV teams core principles.

I have enough experience that the number 1 barrier to inclusion...is lack of understanding. The number one barrier to understanding is that people are afraid of using the wrong language or offending someone...ableism policing, while commendable in principle, will not and does not help fix this core problem, it adds to it.

Anyway, this comment took me waaaaay to long to write and it is late, I am intrigued if it is longer than the article itself πŸ˜‹πŸ€£.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and have a ❀ and a πŸ¦„ as while I may not agree, anything at all that is to do with inclusion, accessibility and disability gets my vote and as i said, I am with you in spirit!! πŸ‘

Collapse
leob profile image
leob • Edited

People just need to communicate decently and respectfully, if they do then most of these detailed guidelines aren't really needed at all. If you keep it respectfully then automatically and intuitively you're not going to use terms like "idiotic", "deaf" or "blind" in your posts (especially posts of a technical nature here on dev.to, but not anywhere else either really). It's simply about respect or decency, which is unfortunately often lacking on social media and on the internet in general.

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

While addressing you, someone else or even a "group identity"...I agree. And if everyone had that attitude...well the world would be lovely. But I run a foul of letting emotions get in the way of civil discourse the same as most so perhaps it will never happen (I am trying to stop it!)!

There are a load of words that we can all agree are not acceptable. When used to describe people, they should not be used. There are certainly words that should be avoided in a public setting, but then where do we draw the line?

"Joe Lycett was hysterical at the concert last night", would you condone that as a sentence?

Because that has an etymology that is rooted in mental health conditions and literally means "of the womb" as it was thought to be a female only condition so is pretty derogatory to women!

Not mentioned once in that glossary...certainly of equal if not higher "offence points" than the other words presented without context. Certainly ableist language by the definitions presented so far.

Pretty soon you start running out of meaningful words you can use if there is no "cut off point" or line in the sand.

And for most people this certainly is not an issue, but when you work in the space, a little bit of forgiveness on out-dated language can go an awful long way to building a bridge that lets you educate someone and let them embrace inclusion.

I think I made the point reasonably well in the first comment that this is not a good idea and if they must pursue this to set some guidelines that are useful.

Thread Thread
steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

As InHuofficial has mentioned, it is kind of hard to use these languages since this does not include understanding of other countries or culture context. But some people has to be called out for being a knucklehead with comments that is not advisable on a international level.

Like in my country we have a diverse list of languages, dialects or our own singlish to refer to people or things. From what is talked about to race or action.

Even diabetic is considered a common term that my ministry of health uses this for their marketing to promote a healthy living in my country.

I understand where this is coming from. My country Singapore, has a general consensus that you are not allowed to have any racist comments/actions against people of another race. Due to our bloody history in racial riot that is written into my country's law to prevent any acts or comments of racism comes with a fine or jail term.

Thread Thread
leob profile image
leob

I see what you mean, you're hitting the nail on the head when you mention culture - what pushes me away is that all of this seems a bit too heavily US centric, based on American cultural concepts: identity politics and the "woke" thing. I'm moderately liberal and all for progressive causes, however the two concepts that I mentioned seem just too US centric - I think for other countries or cultures this needs to be "translated" to terminology that makes sense to them. We need more universal concepts which everyone can relate to - I'd say empathy and humanity.

Thread Thread
steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Yeah, I hear you on that being US centric. I'm 100% on empathy and humanity by following the golden rule for dev.to on those principles.

I detest on those leaning towards woke and identity politics but that is another topic we will be talking for another day.

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

I am beginning to feel like a leant a little too hard on the US-centric thing (unless that is just what people are generally feeling) as you are the third person to mention that specific point!

I agree on identity politics, wokeness etc. but as I have said in other comments (and as you suggest), a topic for another day perhaps 😁.

I don't want to take away from the core point here and "muddy the water" as that is certainly a debate that is likely to lead us into some heated opinions (which ironically is where I love to be!) that are not suitable for this site.

Thread Thread
steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Nah it's alright. I'm from Singapore, we use Singlish as a way to communicate locally. Drawing from various languages and dialect so to me it's totally fine. I share your sentiments on it.

leob profile image
leob • Edited

Well, it's not that I have a fundamental problem with "woke" or "identity" (although it's not something I'm into either), but that's not the point. My point is not whether you or me like or dislike certain politics or a certain ideology, my point is that politics or ideology have no business here on dev.to!

The moment they'd start to politicize things, well that's the beginning of the end, I can tell you, because it's just toxic and divisive - that's why they should stay far, far away from that. And that's why a few paragraphs in this article kind of gave me the creeps.

It's great that they put inclusiveness at the forefront, I'm all for it, add mutual respect and empathy to that and we've got our core values - but don't go too far in terms of prescribing or policing stuff.

Thread Thread
lionelrowe profile image
lionel-rowe

politics or ideology have no business here on dev.to!

Everything is political, including adopting an "apolitical" position. By stating that your own position is the apolitical, neutral ground, you are excluding positions that lie outside of that, thus (paradoxically) taking a political stance.

That said, I broadly agree with @inhuofficial . If you want to be inclusive, it's important to allow people to learn from honest mistakes, and that's especially important in a cross-cultural context. Look at people's good-faith intentions rather than their adherence to a rigid list of rules, beyond some widely-known unacceptable examples such as the "r" slur.

Collapse
michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

I appreciate this comment and think/hope that we probably agree more than we disagree! Thanks for acknowledging that "you're with me in spirit" β€” I'm glad that you think this post is well-intentioned (it is!) and am sorry that so much of the content above rubbed you the wrong way.

First off, I definitely don't have it all figured it out here and am open to all feedback. I won't defend all these alternative terms in "Ableist Terms and Words to Avoid", but I would still encourage folks to check out the resource for themselves and also give the forward a read. I believe the overarching message is that we should all try to be more empathetic and aware of how the vocabulary we're using might negatively affect disabled people. I also still believe the vocabulary list is helpful. That said, I will try to find other resources to include above β€” if you know of some particularly good ones, I'm definitely open to suggestion!

It's not my intention to suggest that we should more heavily "police" DEV to call out or censor folks who are using ableist language. In actuality, we're a team of people responding to reports of abuse that come from community members, some of whom occasionally report feeling uncomfortable & excluded because of the use of ableist language. When this happens, we try our best to look at each situation individually and empathetically. We generally reach out to the person using ableist language to let them know that the language they've chosen is causing harm and ask that they please edit their post to use more inclusive language. We also will often offer to help with these edits. If the person refuses to edit their post, or worse, we have reason to believe the person is using ableist language to offend on purpose, we may take a harder stance to defend those that we feel are being harmed by it. Honestly, we're just trying to steer the conversation to a more respectful, empathetic place and look out for the well-being of folks in the community.

You bring up a lot of great points here and I'm going to keep thinking about all this. I really like your point that ableist language can be culturally dependent; I'd like to search for a resource that dives into this more. I'll also edit the post to remove "more typical abilities" ... it was absolutely not my intention to offend or degrade.

I will say that I don't think the answer is for DEV to define a comprehensive list of unacceptable ableist terms. I do feel that we should lean on existing resources to help educate folks on ableism and encourage empathetic behavior. We will continue to try and uphold the Code of Conduct and when situations arise where we have reason to believe ableist language is causing harm, we'll try our hardest to solve them empathetically and respectfully to all parties involved.

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Hi Michael

We align almost perfectly on our views and I agree 100% that language choice is important. Do not think I do not agree that you made valid points, the whole central message of your article was great. ❀

It is just when the moderators and DEV team are involved in these decisions, based on reports from people who feel "uncomfortable" it is so very dangerous. In some areas this may work, here it certainly will not.

I highlighted "more typical abilities" more as a thought experiment, it was indeed offensive if someone wants to read it that way. I can read into your intentions, the overall mood of the article etc. and just realise it was a poor choice of phrase that I would think nothing of or would have indeed noticed if I had not read the article "with a critical eye". But it was a perfect example of how difficult it is for people to get this right.

Imagine if you had written that article without your experiences at the DEV team and I had reported it (you were just some random person trying to contribute to the world and the conversation in a positive way).

You would receive an email suggesting your language choice was poor and offensive in what is a very respectful and polite article.

Now of course you would change the wording but in he back of your head I have now planted a seed. A very dangerous seed.

"I must be super careful with everything I write as people will take offence at anything and this site will not look at context". That means the next time you want to write an article on a very important subject you will be fearful to do so. What ultimately happens is that you do not write those articles and your valuable contributions into a subject that is not spoken about enough are lost from DEV.

So that is one problem with policing language in any way,

Policing language is especially troubling in a space where people are more likely to want to contribute who may have a cognitive impairment. Some people are very literal and cannot process nuance, some people have a limited vocabulary and struggle to expand that vocabulary, some people are anxious and will react very badly to being told their language could cause harm.

These people still need to be able to talk freely as their viewpoint is sometimes really interesting due to a unique perspective that their experiences may bring due to their disability and the way society reacts to the way they present information or react with others.

That may sound like it is unlikely (you inadvertently causing harm with a simple request), but I have been "the wrong side" of the rules here twice already (mainly because I am a loud mouth and opinionated though 🀣).

These experiences have restricted the content I am prepared to post to the site. And that is from someone who works in a space where everyone has a problem with something somebody says and is highly charged with opinions and agendas. It is also from someone who does not have a disability so I can process that easily.

I have come to terms with that and understand now what is acceptable here (sorry DEV team for not being mature about that while I "settled in" to your expectations here by the way, I do think you are awesome even if our views are miles apart on some things! ❀) but someone else may not be able to process those interventions in the same way and end up excluded themselves.

In addition, if the "ableism" rule is enforced by anything other than the community itself I think anything other than code examples will just disappear from the conversation. And unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done convincing people that accessibility is important (and why it is important) so those conversations need to happen. The conversations are more important than the occasional bit of unintended offence.

Maybe this is isn't the place for those conversations as they will always be charged, dangerous and likely to cause offence...but that would be very sad.

This was the whole point of my original comment, "this is dangerous ground, tread lightly" or even more precisely "do not intervene unless it is 100% clear that the intent was malicious or the word is certainly derogatory".

You may think that is common sense, but I have had an article removed where intent was certainly not considered, only that "some people can read this as offensive". For me that just caused some discomfort and frustration, for others that could be devastating.

On a final point - the Code of Conduct is at the very root of why this is one area I (and it seems many others) would prefer a hands off approach.

It is so heavily weighted towards group identities, which does not serve the disabled community well as disability affects everybody from all groups and has many intertwined groups.

You certainly cannot uphold the "reverisms" part as how do you weight that?

Is someone who uses a wheelchair "more disabled" than someone is blind? Who is "the most privileged" person in that conversation and how do you possibly make the right choice if one person is offended or feels unsafe.

It is especially dangerous when you consider cognitive impairments as someone may have preferred language or limited vocabulary that others deem unacceptable, but is the only language they use. By policing their language you are excluding them. What makes this 100 times harder is that you may not know if somebody has a cognitive impairment...unless you specifically ask (which is a terrible idea. please don't)...so you might do this without ever knowing!

This is an area where common sense alone is not enough, it is too broad, too complex and that is why I suggested a rules list.

It is the only reasonable way to enforce this if that is what the DEV team want to try and do. Otherwise just leave it alone and let the occasional offensive word slip into conversation and act purely when intent is obviously malicious.

Anyway, another essay in the comments it seems, I think in summary:

"A great article, just be very careful when suggesting trying to moderate language within the realms of disability and ableism."

Please write more on inclusive language choices, ableism etc. It is really important, just steer away from trying to moderate it (or at least don't talk about moderating it)...that is the dangerous part!

In fact your article has inspired me to write a post on this very subject. I think this is one of the few times that I will be asking for the DEV team to review it (and especially yourself) before posting as I would like it to be a guide to how to write inclusively that considers all of these aspects, but it is also likely to be an article that is flying close to acceptable for the site. When I have written it you will be the first to know as I would love to have your opinion!

Thread Thread
ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

@inhuofficial , I understand your point (and can think of multiple examples in my own life of times when I've been corrected on behaviour and responded in an all-or nothing kind of way). I'm really glad you've found a way to reconcile that thinking with your participation here. Your perspectives are always valued, even if (maybe when?) the need arises for mods to ask you to make adjustments. As @michaeltharrington says above:

If you use a term on DEV that our moderators identify as ableist in nature, it does not make you a β€œbad” person and our goal is never to humiliate or alienate you for unintentional use of these terms. We simply share this information (or take steps to moderate an offending discussion or account) to maintain a healthy and safe environment for everyone here. πŸ™‚

If there's one take-home from his article above, I really hope it's this one.

Life is a series of adjustments, for some of us more than others. The DEV team is committed to maintaining a thoughtful approach to community moderation, and that means we welcome respectful conversations like this one. Thanks again for taking time to weigh in here and share your views. Looking forward to reading your next article!

Collapse
ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

DEV Team member here. As I wrote in response to another comment:

The intent here was never to introduce a new set of rules to DEV, but to highlight that when we speak of inclusiveness, that includes language considerations - especially when used to belittle or disrespect other community members.

English was not my first language, and I still screw things up, but in the name of respect and empathy I try to listen and learn when people tell me that my words hurt them, and I hope they will forgive me. In treating others as I wish to be treated, I have to accept the same of everyone else.

This means allowing DEV members to modify language in their posts or comments that is reported to us as hurtful, and having this post here as a primer to allow people to become aware of their language in advance. However I personally feel about the language used here, the resources @michaeltharrington linked have been created by people for whom certain words carry harmful associations.

Most of us are trying our best, but what that looks like is totally subjective from person to person and day to day. Thank you for sharing your support and suggestions, and for participating whole-heartedly in this community to advocate for accessibility.

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Hey Ella

The "reported as hurtful" bit is the key part that is impossible to get right, that is the bit I am trying (perhaps unsuccessfully) to illustrate.

I sent a massive reply to Michael so hopefully that explains a little better why this is important and why this will be so very difficult to intervene on. Hopefully it makes sense (another essay...sorry!).

(tried to liquid tag the comment but it gave me an "Requires a Node, NodeSet or String argument, and cannot accept a NilClass. (You probably want to select a node from the Document with at() or search(), or create a new Node via Node.new().)" so you will have to find it I am afraid! πŸ˜‹

I am totally aware everyone is doing their best, I know the whole DEV team are nice, well intentioned and lovely people, I just want this to be one area where perhaps the occasional individual being offended is actually allowed through the net for the greater good, which I know is not at the core of the principles of the site!

Basically "intervention only when someone is being hateful or deliberately attacking someone, otherwise the benefit of the doubt".

Thread Thread
ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

I completely understand your point. As you say yourself, that's not at the core of this site's principles.

I'm not sure I understand why anyone would insist on preserving language in a post or comment after being told someone else finds it hurtful or dehumanizing, especially if that wasn't their intention.

Collapse
jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

Can I like his more than once?

So many of these well intentioned ideas to make things more inclusive simply serve to alienate, and insert prejudice - or the perception of prejudice, where none existed or was intended... thereby exacerbating the very problem you are trying commendably to solve.

Context is everything

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Hehe, no they haven't added unicorns to comments yet but maybe that is the next step!

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is a phrase I spend a lot of time thinking about when I implement things, even if it is a little dark! (in fact I am pretty sure I already used that phrase on the site this week...looks like I am getting boring! hehe)

Couldn't agree more that context and intent is the most important aspect (in my view at least)!

Anyway everyone needs to stop being so nice to me about this comment, my head won't fit out of the door soon πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

Collapse
jgaskins profile image
Jamie Gaskins

I'm gonna touch on a few of these terms you're balking at because, to put it bluntly, you're wrong.

"idiotic" - I mean, are we really going to get to a place where I can't call someone an idiot for doing something stupid...seems a little bit too far (yet again, may be a cultural thing)

Yes. People with various learning or speech disabilities are called this all the time specifically for having a learning or speech disability. Find a more appropriate word.

imbecile - instead use "dipshit"...I don't think I need to point out why this is not better.

I could copy my response to the previous one and it would still work. "Dipshit" isn't weaponized against people with learning or speech disabilities. Your assertion that it's not better is wrong.

"Morbidly obese" - they suggest "fat person". I think I will use a medical term instead of just being deliberately offensive. If somebody is classed as disabled purely due to their weight, they are "morbidly obese" and that is the medical condition that is related to their disability.

Speaking as a fat guy, I assure you that you can wield that word respectfully. "Obese" is indeed a medical term, but I could write an entire treatise on how biased doctors are against fat people and how that term is weaponized against folks like me with endomorphic bodies β€” genetically predisposed to retain more muscle and fat. In fact, I wrote a tweet thread about it just a few months ago. Even when I could physically outperform half the people that were seen as "healthy", I was still fat, people still gave me shit about my size, and doctors still chalked up every ailment I had to being fat.

And when you consider the sheer quantity of concern trolling on the internet ("I'm not making fun of them, it's just not healthy!"), the word "obese" has lost its meaning. Feel free to call me large, big, chunky, or fat if you can manage to do it respectfully but I'd prefer you didn't say "overweight" and absolutely never, ever call me obese. Ever.

"Special Needs" - which is the preferred term in the UK for children who have a learning impairment.

Have you asked folks with learning disabilities what terms they prefer? Maybe start there.


As you might have picked up on, these all quite literally hit close to home for me, so this is where I had to stop reading. You're absolutely wrong about all of these and what I did read was pure self-righteous concern-trolling and "I don't wanna stop using this word", so I won't be reading the rest, but I wasn't going to silently ignore this shit and pretend it was okay.

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Could we have a civil discussion about this without the personal attacks?

I understand that this "hit close to home" for you based on what you have said and believe me when something riles me up and goes against my principles I will put every bit of passion into a comment as well, without much thought as to the tone! But it was uncalled for and you are making assumptions about me.

Anyway, lets see if we can get to understand each other a little better!

Firstly, it is unfortunate that the first part of the comment was upsetting to you to an extent you felt you could not continue.

If you had read just two more sentences you would have realised why I pointed those items out.

Also I hope those points raised show that you cannot police ableism without context and you can't possibly have cultural context on a site like this. ​

Context and culture were at the core of the whole message.

If I was to direct any of those terms at you, someone else or a group in a derogatory way or with any malice...I entirely agree it is disgusting behaviour.

But if those are terms that I am using to explain a point and they fit with the culture in my Country then who do you side with?

I will not cover the first three points you disagreed with, as I do not want to cause you any more offence and I fear no matter how carefully I tread on those points I will upset you further.

But the "Special Needs" difference in culture is quite clear from nidirect.gov.uk/articles/children-... - a government run website and bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cnrxy1nq9kxt... the BBC, just a couple of examples of how it is culturally appropriate in a professional setting in the UK.

This yet again reinforces the point I made about cultural differences.

Have you asked folks with learning disabilities what terms they prefer? Maybe start there.

I have asked many many people with many many different disabilities what they prefer, it is my day job, I work in the space, I teach about accessibility both in the digital world and in the physical world. When was the last time you asked someone with a disability what language they prefer?

Oh and the answer is "everyone has their own preferred language", sometimes the words they choose could even be seen as offensive.

For example "Aspie" as a self identifying term is loved by some, hated by others...another example of how do you police that? Telling someone they cannot use a term they identify with is as bad, if not worse, than someone being offended at a term provided it is not said with malice or intention to harm.

And as for the other reason why I am so against it without some rules or guidance is that this is a space where people are ignorant and unaware of what prejudice people with disabilities face.

Education is key to improving this. Do you know what the number one reason people give for not learning more about disability, inclusion and the barriers society imposes is? Fear of saying the wrong thing and offending someone.

Your comment pretty much confirms that point, as if I hadn't been in this space for a long time, I would have immediately thought "nope, don't join discussions on disability and inclusion, everyone will get mad at me" and never learn about the more important aspects of inclusion than innocent misuses of language.

I hope you do read the rest of the article, you already reached the end of the bit that was offending you and the rest of it is far less likely to cause you offence, it would be interesting to have your opinion (good or bad) on the rest of the points I made and see if we have some common ground we can build upon.

P.s. as you are a member of forem (which makes your condescension and attacking comment 100 times worse by the way) I hope you would appreciate that on dev.to/t/a11y/top/year my articles appear 7 times in the top 50 or so posts, I would hope it is clear I am trying to make a positive contribution, both to the DEV community and to accessibility in general, and my intentions are not "self-righteous concern-trolling".

Thread Thread
steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Please take a chill pill as InHubOfficial and I has mentioned.There is differences in culture on the use of words like for Chinese being called "Fat/Obese" can be either a praise or shame depending on the situation/people it is used on.

Since we can either assume people who is "Fat/Obese" as someone who is blessed, living a good life, healthy and has abundance of resources or the usual offensive intent that is normally talked about. Heck we even have a phrase especially to a baby called η™½η™½θƒ–θƒ– to say to the parent they have a healthy & happy baby.

Collapse
technoglot profile image
Amelia Vieira Rosado 🐣✨

LOL, this comment deserves to be a post!

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Yeah it did end up a little long 🀣

Collapse
nefomemes profile image
Nefomemes

While I agree to ditch -phobia words that are used to describe a form of hate, it's mainly because it's confusing. -phobic is used for describing a form of fear or unpleasant, just like what was said in the article.

Collapse
egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her) • Edited

god i love it when you drop by and leave a whole article in the comments XD

And I do agree with your points! Focusing on nano-aggressions like saying deaf-mute instead of deaf and non-verbal (which AFAIK, is an acceptable term in the US from my experience working with disabled folks) is overlooking the big picture - the intent behind these words. This type of language has become a cultural minefield. I feel like the best approach is to focus on intent and education.

Unfortunately, there isn't going to be a good glossary of inclusive vs ableist terms because that cultural context does matter so much, and these things can vary in impact on different disabled people (people with disabilities? <- this kind of mix-up is a great common example).

Another thing to keep in mind: dev.to, like the rest of the internet, has many users that are not native English speakers. You just can't expect non-native speakers to know the intricacies and connotations of this kind of thing. It loops back to empathy and education. Chances are, if you let them know they misspoke and offer an alternative, they'll be grateful for the kind correction and use that moving forward.

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Aww thanks Erica...although I am not sure that I like the fact that I am getting a reputation for writing essays in comments πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

Intent is at the core of discourse, if someone uses a term that makes me wince because of my personal vocabulary and education on a subject I have learned (with much practice I might add) to look past that.

Oh and as for the "people with disabilities" (the favoured way as far as I am concerned) vs "disabled people" debate...it is painful to see how militant people can be with it.

As long as you aren't using an obvious slur it really doesn't matter that much, I just want to talk to you about it so we can learn from each other!

Collapse
leob profile image
leob • Edited

You already replied to my reply (but I'm unable to reply to your reply to my reply, lol) but just know that I'm with you and with what you said, 99 or 100 percent. What I want to add to that, is that my concern is when these issues are being framed too heavily in politicized or ideological terms, like "woke" or "activist" or "identity politics". I get irked a bit when I read generalized statements like "society is ... or does ... or has always" or "people tend to ..." or "throughout society for centuries ...". All of that is debatable, and arguably subjective - don't give me opinions, stick to the facts!

What I do value however is if dev.to promotes empathy and humanity - when you write a text with words like "deaf", "blind", "idiotic" or whatever, do put yourself in other people's shoes and ask yourself: would this offend someone who's not like me? Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself! Those are the concepts that I would like to put front and center, as guiding principles: respect, empathy and humanity ... and the good thing is that it does not just apply to ableism but also to race, gender, you name it.

I don't feel we really need a special "approach" for each subject, with a list of forbidden words, or the need for policing. Just the basic principles, and what's great is that these are universal, that we can all agree on them, and that they also translate to other cultures and countries (outside of the US, that is).

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Glad to know I am not the only one 🀣

I am not going to wander into "woke" etc. as I know that my ideology is not a good fit here and I do not want to muddy the water on the point I am making by bringing other things into the mix (but I do agree with you on most points - I am centre with possibly even a slight right lean in some people's eyes! Hell I agree with every word that people like Thomas Sowell say and most stuff he says would be super offensive here.)

But this time my objection and criticism is not driven by beliefs, politics etc. It is driven by experience and observation in the real world.

I would rather the community moderated itself here than the mods and the DEV team as this is one thing that we need a:

Person A: "that isn't acceptable language"

Person B: "but it is a preferred term in my Country, please do not take offence"

Person A: "could we perhaps use the term...X"

Person B: "sure, as long as not in this context"

type of understanding on as that is how we arrive at terms that we can use internationally.

Anyway I have written too many essays, I better go get some work done!!

P.s. the reply to your reply to my reply thing is always interesting πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

Thread Thread
leob profile image
leob

Agree to all of that ... they shouldn't be policing the site in a witch hunt for "wrong" words or whatever (who decides that?), what should be the core principle is - do people act and communicate with respect and empathy? If we see that they do then fine, we're done. If we see they don't - yes then we can call them out, I'm all for it.

And, please please please, let's stay far away from politics and ideology here at dev.to, it's toxic and divisive and it has no place here - too many realms of life and society are already poisoned by endless political debate - we need less politics and ideology, not more.

Collapse
ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Chiming in here as a member of the DEV Team:

Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself! Those are the concepts that I would like to put front and center, as guiding principles: respect, empathy and humanity

My read on things is that mutual respect and empathy are at the core of everything we do, in terms of moderation. If the concepts @michaeltharrington has outlined above seem like stating the obvious (or go so far as over-stating) then the circles you move in on DEV are probably in fairly strong alignment with our community values.

However, there have been times when language has been used to belittle or disrespect people. The pushback we received when moderating those instances was the motivation behind this post.

My understanding is that the intent here was never to introduce a new set of rules to DEV, but to highlight that when we speak of inclusiveness, that includes language - especially when used to belittle or disrespect other community members. We hope by making this clearer to the community, it will come as less of a surprise when we request modifications and/or remove the offending language (in the case of a refusal to modify).

Thanks for taking the time to share your views on this post.

Thread Thread
leob profile image
leob

Totally with you, belittling or denigrating people is never acceptable ... I can understand that sometimes people can get carried away by their emotions and say these things, but it's the duty of moderators or others to point this out - and ultimately this is beneficial for everyone, that's how we can learn and grow.

Thread Thread
ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

πŸ’― and I like to think that DEV is a place where we can foster empathic communication about these things too.

Thread Thread
leob profile image
leob

Well, people can sometimes easily get carried away, and I'm including myself ... it happened to me once that I was about to post a pretty aggressive reply to someone, when just in time I saw that I completely misunderstood what he/she said ... this goes to show that it's always a good idea to "count to 10" when you're about to post something while you're emotionally triggered.

Something else I've learned is that sometimes it's simply better to not react at all, even when you think you're right and the other isn't. Happened to me more than once that I posted something, then decided to immediately delete it because I thought, yeah whatever, live and let live, this isn't worth it.

Thread Thread
ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Lol! The old "just because you can say it, don't mean you should say it"... I'm finding myself getting better at this as I'm getting older, but it's been a long time coming and I still have a long way to go!

Thread Thread
leob profile image
leob

This! that's exactly what I mean ... if we'd all stick to this principle, the world would be a better place (but well, some people just like drama and strife better than peace and harmony).