AAACN Inclusive Publication Guidelines
Created by the DEI Committee; Approved by the Board of Directors 1/2024

Inclusive Language Guide



Don't Use

Use Instead

Ability and Disability

Every person is a whole person, and
regardless of their condition, that
doesn’t impact their interaction with
the world. Use factual information and
avoid making assumptions about the
impact of the condition.

  • Disabled
  • Handicapped
  • Afflicted with
  • Confined to
  • Bed bound
  • Crazy
  • Dumb
  • Lame
  • “Blind spot”
  • “Stands for”
  • “Stand up to”
  • Has “condition”
  • Has below the knee amputation
  • Mobilizes with wheelchair/other device
  • Diagnosed with schizophrenia


Anything presenting age should be
numbers and fact- based. Avoid using
anything age-related, unless relevant
to the information being presented.

  • Can’t teach an old dog new tricks
  • So easy your grandma could do it
  • Looks good for age
  • Mature for age
  • People aged 13-26 stated…
  • Recommended for ages 0-2 years
  • Those over 65 years old…


Gender-fair terminology should be
used to avoid inferring a binary

  • He/she
  • Him/hers
  • Feminine
  • Masculine
  • “You guys/girls/ladies/ men”
  • They/them (singular or plural)
  • People
  • Group


Provide an open and inclusive
environment for people to feel
comfortable in their sexuality and
sexual relationships. Never assume
sexuality, sexual partners, or family
relationships of people who are

  • Husband/wife
  • Mother/father
  • Assumption of hetero or homosexuality
  • Related to current partner
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Sexual partners


Want to provide an open forum for
people to provide their own
nationality as they define it.

  • Citizen/alien
  • Illegal/legal immigrant
  • Mobilizes with wheelchair/other device
  • American/American public
  • People
  • The public
  • Population
  • Group of people/patients

Race/ Ethnicity

Allow people to define their own
race/ethnicity as they identify. Avoid
assumptions or stereotypes.

  • Religious groups
  • (Muslim, Islam, Hindi, etc.)
  • Skin colors
  • Arabic, Middle Eastern, North African, etc.


Avoid stigmatizing terminology that
shames or disconnects from the

  • Fat
  • Midget
  • Giant
  • Skin and bones
  • Disheveled/disgusting/malodorous
  • People with obesity
  • People of short stature
  • People of tall stature
  • People with anorexia/bulimia/thyroid condition, etc.
  • People with poor hygiene or people with excessive secretions

Classism/Social Status

Avoid defining others by their use of
language or their educational status.

  • Sounds smart or classy
  • Sounds stupid or slow
  • Appears poor/impoverished
  • Unable to understand
  • Doesn’t speak English
  • Low class
  • High class
  • Speaks or writes at a higher educational level
  • Speaks or writes at a lower educational level
  • Define the characteristic (hygiene, torn clothing, no shoes, lack of resources/without a home)
  • Has a lower literacy level, has low health literacy, requires a lower level of written/spoken material
  • English is not primary languag


Avoid using terminology that
contributes to disempowering
communities or people.

  • Marginalized
  • Minority
  • Disenfranchised
  • Communities/people who have been marginalized
  • Define the percentage of the population related to specific population
  • Communities where resources have been taken, communities with less access to services, etc.
Inclusive language | 18F Content Guide (
The Health at Every Size® (HAES®) Approach | ASDAH (