A new guide on inclusive communication by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to improve health equality has published a long list of words and phrases such as elderly, smokers and poor for less dehumanising language.
The guide includes a list of guiding principles and preferred terms to use rather than seemingly dehumanising ones such as poor and elderly to encourage a continuous shift toward non-stigmatising language.
The guide reads that long-standing systemic social health inequities have put some population groups at heightened risk of getting sick, having overall poor health, and having more serious outcomes when they do get ill and that we should avoid continuing these inequities in communication.
The guide asks health communicators and medical experts to examine how racism and other forms of prejudice unjustly disadvantage people and lead to social and health inequities.
The CDC website reads that language in communication products should reflect and speak to the needs of people in the audience of focus.
The guide gives a list of words in various categories to avoid using and recommends replacements to use instead.
Most of the recommendations are structured to read such as ‘a person with disabilities’ rather than describing someone as ‘disabled.’
In the disability category, the CDC also suggests avoiding the use of ‘differently abled’, ‘afflicted’ and ‘handicapped.’ And rather than calling someone ‘elderly’ or a ‘senior,’ the CDC recommends using the term ‘older adults’ or ‘elders.’
For drug and substance abuse terms, the CDC guide recommends avoiding the terms ‘drug users/addicts/drug abusers’ or ‘alcoholics/abusers.’
Instead, the CDC prefers that they be called terms such as ‘persons with substance use disorder’ or ‘persons with alcohol use disorder’, or even ‘persons in recovery from substance use/alcohol disorder.’
The CDC has even asked for ‘smokers’ to be referred to as ‘people who smoke.’
Meanwhile, poor people should be referred to as ‘people with lower incomes’ or ‘people experiencing poverty.’ And rather than ‘homeless people’ or ‘transient people,’ the CDC suggests referring to them as ‘people experiencing homelessness’ or ‘persons who are not securely housed.’
The CDC has recommended avoiding terms such as ‘mentally ill’ and ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’ while also avoiding using words such as ‘asylum’ in reference to mental hospitals and facilities.
The guide even includes a category for immigration, recommending that medical professionals avoid using such words as ‘illegals’, ‘illegal immigrants,’ and ‘illegal aliens.’
Instead, the CDC prefers dropping the word ‘illegal’ from the description or using words like ‘people with undocumented status’ or ‘foreign-born persons.’
When it comes to crime, the CDC recommends avoiding terms like ‘inmate’ and ‘prisoner’ and ‘criminal’. Instead, the agency prefers words like ‘people who are incarcerated’ or ‘people who were formerly incarcerated.’
The guide also has lengthy categories on topics such as how to refer to people who identify as LGBTQ or people of other races and ethnicities.
Perhaps then, rather than being called ‘woke’, those people should be referred to as ‘off their rocker’ or ‘people who have an absence of common sense.’
But of course, this is all a song and dance that will accomplish absolutely nothing, but undoubtedly these people are paid a small fortune for such rubbish.
Indeed, the solution is to substitute one word that has real meaning, with an entire sentence that has no meaning, and over time, the whole sentence will gain the same connotations as the single word, and then you wonder why no one takes the CDC seriously.