There are a handful terms in particular that are frequently confused during conversations surrounding accessibility and inclusivity in regards to language. While these terms sound quite similar, their meanings are very different.
To make understanding them easier, we’re breaking down some key terms you need to know when it comes to making language more accessible.
Accessibility language or language of accessibility
The terms accessibility language and language of accessibility both refer to making sure that disabled individuals have the resources and accommodations they need to be able to participate fully in daily activities when it comes to language. This includes things like providing materials in accessible formats (such as braille or large print) or using sign language interpreters for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These terms can also refer to being respectful and inclusive when discussing disability and accessibility, as well as avoiding using language that is stigmatizing or demeaning.
Accessible language or plain language
Plain language is a way of communicating information that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. It is often used in written communications, such as documents and websites, to ensure that the intended audience can easily find and understand the information they need. A plain language approach involves using straightforward language, organizing information in a logical and clear manner, and avoiding jargon or technical terms that might be confusing to the reader. It is not the same as oversimplifying or talking down to the reader, but rather it is about presenting information in a way that is accessible to all readers, regardless of their education or background. Using plain language can help to ensure that important information is not missed or misunderstood, and can help to make complex information more accessible to a wider audience.
Language access is about ensuring that individuals who speak languages other than English (referred to as Limited English Proficient or LEP individuals) are able to access the same services and information as English speakers. This often involves providing translated written materials or hiring interpreters to facilitate spoken communication. Providing language access is important because it allows LEP individuals to fully participate in various activities, such as accessing healthcare, partaking in the educational system, and interacting with government agencies.
Inclusive language is about using terms and expressions that are inclusive of LGBTQIA+ and minority individuals and that do not exclude or diminish them. This includes using language that is gender-neutral or non-sexist, as well as avoiding terms that are derogatory or stigmatizing. Using inclusive language is an important aspect of creating a more inclusive and equitable society, and it is essential for promoting respect and understanding among all members of our communities.
Language and accessibility are key in our daily lives. Being aware of what each of us can do in these aspects can have a huge impact on someone else’s life. Professional translation services can help businesses and organizations reach their accessibility goals and can help them establish brand loyalty amongst their diverse customer base.