Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

UFCJC Inclusive Language Guide


UF College of Journalism and Communications is home to faculty, staff and students who value diverse and collaborative environments. As communicators, we also understand that language impacts and gives evidence of our commitment to inclusivity. 

The Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee is providing this inclusive-language guide, a collection of best practices gathered through research, to be utilized when considering communication efforts within the workplace, whether the communication is written or spoken. Inclusive language is defined by the Linguistic Society of America as language that “acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences, and promotes equal opportunities.”

Generally, community members should be asked what terms of identification they prefer. 

Instances to Practice Inclusive Language

Person-First Language

Person-first language emphasizes the person before their disability. PFL is a form of linguistic etiquette and considered the most respectful way to address people with disabilities or differences. 

PFL guidelines suggest addressing people with disabilities as “a person with” rather than identifying them as their disability. For example, “a person who is blind” instead of “a blind person.” Below are some examples of other ways to practice PFL. 

Less Inclusive More Inclusive


“Afflicted,” “Suffers from,” “A victim of…:”

Confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound

Suffers from Down Syndrome, “Downs”

Learning disabled


Physically disabled/Crippled

Adult/Child with a disability

Adult/Child with autism

“Person who has..”

Person who uses a wheelchair

Adult/Child with Down Syndrome

Has a learning disability

Has quadriplegia/paraplegia

Has a physical disability

Generally, PFL is preferred by people with disabilities except in the case of autistic and deaf people who prefer Identity-first language. Read more about this here.



In general, avoid referencing age. If necessary, use identifying terms such as “baby boomer” or the specific age number. Avoid generalizations that can have a negative connotation such as “old” or “ancient.” Below are some preferred terms when referencing age. 

  • Older adult, older person
  • Younger person
  • Teen, teenager, preteen, adolescent
  • “People over/under x age…”


Gender and Sexuality

Gender is a part of someone’s identity. It determines how they want to be addressed and how they interact with others; however gender isn’t always determined by someone’s clothes or appearance. It is always best to ask someone what pronouns they prefer before making an assumption.

Gender Description






   Describes a person whose gender does not necessarily align     with the one they were assigned at birth.


   Describes a person whose gender identity aligns with theone     they were assigned at birth.  


   Used to describe someone who does not exclusively identify     as male or female, but rather in between. 


Sexuality refers to someone’s romantic attraction to others. 

Sexuality Description








   Attracted to people of the opposite gender. 

   Attracted to other women. 

   Attracted to people of the same gender. 

   Attracted to both men and women. 

   A person who does not necessarily experience a sexual       attraction, but may experience a romantic one. 

   Attracted to all genders, binary or non-binary. 

   Desribes all genders, binary and non-binary, and sexualities that may not be described in the above terms. 


Race and Ethnicity

Race is the classification of groups of people based on physical or biological characteristics such as skin color or hair texture. As a general rule, try to be as specific and respectful as possible when referring to others. 

Race Description
African American/Black 


Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander


  • Black and African American are not always interchangeable. 
  • Some people may identify as Afro-Latino, Afro-Carribean or otherwise. 
  • The U.S. Census Bureau defines Asians as people whose origins are of East Asia, South Asia or Southeast Asia. Countries include Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Asian American refers to people of Asian descent who are also  American citizens.
  • Pacific Islander refers to people who are Native Hawaiian, Samoan, 
  • Guamanian, Fijian and other people of the Pacific Island nations.
  • Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries. 
  • Latin(o/a) and Latinx are used to refer to people of Latin American descent.

Ethnicity refers to someone’s nationality, language or the culture they were raised in. Nationalities are generally capitalized and hyphens are not necessary when referring to ethnic classifications such as Italian American. 


This is a live document that will be updated as language and linguistic practices change. If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding inclusive language or this guide, please contact the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Joanna Hernandez at


Additional Resources and Reading:

Linguistic Society of America – Guidelines for Inclusive Language

US Census Bureau – About Race

Office of Disability Rights – People First Language

Edutopia – Getting Started with Person-first Language

USC Aiken Inclusive Language Guide

Rider University – Using Inclusive Language: Guidelines and Examples

Counseling@Northwestern – Inclusive Language Guide