News from Northwest ADA Center – Idaho

The University of Washington has been working toward fostering an inclusive and welcoming culture in their campus community. As such, they have been working to eliminate some of the IT terminology used for years that has racist, ableist and/or sexist origins and their continued use perpetuates privilege.

Using clear, concise and direct language (known as plain language) is a good way to avoid problematic words. Plain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Plain language:

  • Uses active voice, not passive voice
  • Uses short sentences and paragraphs
  • Is composed of common, everyday words
  • Is organized using easy-to-follow design features like headers, lists and tables
  • Avoids jargon and colloquial language

Colloquial language in particular can be a source of many problematic words and phrases, and many of the terms included in the list are colloquial.

Colloquial language refers to words or expressions used in ordinary language by common people. Colloquialism is casual conversation where some slang terms are used and where no attempt is made at being formal. This can include idioms, or phrases that have a cultural meaning, but that meaning is derived from a cultural familiarity and not the meaning of the words themselves.

Examples include “raining cats and dogs” or “sanity check” or “lowering the bar.” While most people reading this know exactly what these phrases mean, the meaning is derived from a cultural context and not the words themselves. Two of those phrases are problematic. Other examples would be “black-out dates” instead of blocked out dates. Or “master” instead of main.

For more information about the complete list of suggested words you can visit this site.



For more information about the ADA contact:

Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator 

For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website:
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 7