Tuesday, August 31, 2021

CDC's 'woke' new language guide proposes replacing 'dehumanizing' words like inmate, poor and ELDERLY

A new guide on 'inclusive communication' by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote 'health equity' has published a long list of words and phrases such as elderly, smokers and poor for les 'dehumanizing' language.

The guide includes a list of guiding principles and preferred terms to use rather than seemingly dehumanizing ones such as 'poor' and 'elderly' to foster 'an ongoing shift toward non-stigmatizing language.'

'Long-standing systemic social and health inequities ... have put some population groups at increased risk of getting sick, having overall poor health, and having worse outcomes when they do get sick,' the guide reads. 'Avoid perpetuating these inequities in communication.'

The guide asks health communicators and medical professionals to 'consider how racism and other forms of discrimination unfairly disadvantage people and lead to social and health inequities.'

'Language in communication products should reflect and speak to the needs of people in the audience of focus,' the CDC website reads.

The guide provides lists of words in multiple categories to avoid using, and suggests replacements to use in their stead.

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 recommends avoiding the use of 'differently abled', 'afflicted' and 'handicapped.'

And instead of calling someone 'elderly' or a 'senior,' the CDC recommends using the terms '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 instead of 'homeless people' or 'transient people,' the CDC recommends referring to them as 'people experiencing homelessness' or 'persons who are not securely housed.'

The CDC has recommended avoiding words 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 terms as 'illegals', 'illegal immigrants.' and 'illegal aliens.'

Instead, the CDC prefers dropping the word 'illegal' from the description or using terms 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 terms 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.


Native title body concern over traditional place names on SA driver's licences

South Australians are now able to add Indigenous place names to their driver's licences, but the change comes with a warning from the state's peak native title body.

About 300 residents have already chosen to have a First Nations name added to their residential address and identification.

The director of ServiceSA, Shannon Smith, said the organisation took inspiration from Australia Post, which worked with Gomeroi woman Rachel McPhail to include First Nations country names on envelopes and packages.

"We started getting some customer inquiries about this during the year and NAIDOC week culminated in a few more," Mr Smith said.

"We thought this would be us doing our small part in recognising the traditional owners of the land.

"We provided the capability for customers to add the traditional place name to their licence for the area in which they reside — it's purely customer choice."

Mr Smith said so far all the feedback had been positive.

What's in a name?

SA Native Title Services (SANTS) chief executive Keith Thomas said the initiative was a move in the right direction but he had questions about its execution.

Mr Thomas said choosing an Indigenous place name to use could be complicated.

Many areas are subject to native title determinations, where particular Aboriginal nations have legal rights over the land.

Some places are not subject to native title, but are still known to be the traditional lands of one or more nations.

And across Australia, where the Indigenous name for many specific towns, cities or places is known, or is even in common use, it can still be ambiguous.

"There are numerous maps, but they're not all accurate," Mr Thomas said.

"In the future … we would be keen to be involved in establishing a map that clearly identifies who the groups in certain areas are."

SANTS uses the federal government's National Native Title Tribunal map to advise people whose land they are on.

ServiceSA, however, said it referred customers to a different map on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website, which showed traditional land ownership but not native title claims.

"If you look at a native title map it can be very confusing," Mr Thomas said.

He said there could even be situations in which the local native title group would have to verify land names themselves to avoid confusion or mislabeling.

Consultation limited

ServiceSA did not consult with Aboriginal organisations or groups about the inclusion of traditional land names on drivers licences.

Mr Smith said it listened to the "groundswell" in the community.

"We did engage with Aboriginal staff members within ServiceSA to provide advice on the way forward," he said.

But Mr Thomas said SANTS should have been consulted and suggested a liaison officer within ServiceSA could work with SANTS and other native title groups to help ensure the initiative was successful.

"We could give them certainty around the Aboriginal group names," Mr Thomas said.

"There are some groups that have boundaries that run halfway through a town.

"It can be quite confusing if you're not aware of those sorts of intricacies that come from looking at a native title map."

Improvements likely

Mr Smith said he was open to changes.

"We are currently looking [to improve] our forms to make it obvious you can include the place name if you wish," he said.

"Also, whether we can put in any checks to verify the residential address or suburb to the traditional place name — we think there might be a way through that but we are still investigating."

He said ServiceSA may consider whether to allow Indigenous customers to include the nation they belong to, in addition to the land they live on, in the future.


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