About Cultural Competency in Nevada (342)Page 13 of 18

12. Discriminatory Language and Behaviors

Language can marginalize and exclude people through “othering”, which is exclusionary speech or behavior towards those who are deemed as different to oneself. When providing care for diverse groups, healthcare professionals must be mindful of not speaking or behaving in a way that is perceived by those who are receiving that care as othering (Marjadi et al., 2023).

Ensuring inclusive language means respecting the power of self-identification for individuals and communities. At the heart of inclusive language is respect for all types of diversity. Terms such as “wheelchair bound” and “confined to a wheelchair” are dismissive of the Social Model of Disability; better terms include “wheelchair rider”, “wheelchair user”, or “a person who uses a wheelchair” (Marjadi et al., 2023).

Faced with instances of differing terminology preferences within a population group, it is recommended that healthcare workers: (a) consult each person for their preference, (b) be familiar with the relevant local guidelines, and (c) acknowledge other preferences when using one language for general communications (Marjadi et al., 2023).

Awareness of health inequities has led to the development of inclusive, person-centered healthcare practices, which are practices tailored to individual identities, beliefs, and needs. This starts with awareness of assumptions and stereotypes and the use of inclusive language.