University releases tech-based 'inclusive' language guide

The 'Inclusive IT Language Guide' was published by the Office of Information Technology at University of California, Irvine.

Guidelines specify preferred terms for phrases that contain 'layers of meaning' now deemed problematic.

The University of California, Irvine has released an “Inclusive IT Language Guide” for technology users and professionals. 

The five-page guide is a part of the university’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) efforts. The guide is directed for use by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and it claims that the OIT “must reflect these values.”

The guide suggests that OIT staff avoid using gendered pronouns such as he or she as often as possible. For instance, instead of using he or she, staff should use “they” as an alternative. Instead of saying “guys or gals,” the staff should use “team.” 

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Staff should also ask others their preferred pronouns instead of assuming them, according to the guide’s suggestions. 

Additionally, staff should be aware of “layers of meaning” behind certain terms, because certain terms could carry negative connotations associated with specific identity groups, according to the document. 

For example, terms such as “Blacklist and Whitelist” are considered problematic and are encouraged to be replaced with the phrases “allowlist” and “denylist.” Likewise, “built-in feature” is the preferred term over “native feature.” 

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The guide also suggests avoiding usage of metaphors such as “master/slave” when referring to devices or processes that control other devices or processes. 

The master/slave term in technology has been controversial for some time.

In 2003, UCLA requested that manufacturers, contractors, and suppliers stop using the term.

Campus Reform reached out to the University of California, Irvine for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.