Communication as a driver to food literacy

Inclusive Communication seeks to “create a supportive and effective communication environment, using every available means of communication to understand and be understood.”

The use of neutral and inclusive language is increasingly present in societies. Its importance has been highlighted by the social character of language and its role as a tool for inclusion.

The aim is to ensure that all people feel respected and included, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or other identities. For example, neutral and inclusive language may include the introduction of neutral pronouns and adjectives or the adoption of gender-neutral language. Using neutral and inclusive language also helps to reduce stereotypes and promote social change.

Sociologist and researcher at the University of Coimbra, Mara Pieri, states that by countering these expressions “we cut the possibility that they continue to be perceived as natural”, we guarantee that they will not “hurt, offend or discriminate against anyone” and we can also enrich the language by replacing these expressions with others that reflect current events2.

Terms to reconsider

Alternative term to use

Man/Women

Person or individual

He/him/his She/her/hers

They/them/theirs

His document

Their document

Blacklist/Whitelist

Allow list, deny list

The poor/Low-class people/Poor people

People whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold

People whose self-reported incomes were in the lowest income bracket

invalid

Person with a physical disability

wheelchair-bound person

Wheelchair user

Person in a wheelchair

What are the key elements of a neutral and inclusive language?

  • Use inclusive language: for example, use “human being” or “humanity” to refer to the whole human species rather than the word “man”;
  • Use accessible language: avoid every long sentence, ideally between 15 and 20 words, and use familiar words;
  • Use person-first Language: for example, “person with a disability” or “people with disabilities”. A person isn’t a disability, condition or diagnosis; a person has a disability condition or diagnosis;
  • Avoid using social labels/stereotypes: avoid using labels or categories to describe people. Language that describes the person should be chosen, rather than making assumptions based on appearance and background;
  • Respect cultural differences: avoid using language that may be offensive or insensitive.