Being inclusive of people with disability in editing

Following on from my recent blog on cultural safety in editing for culturally diverse perspectives, editing for inclusion is important, and includes people with disability.

I have recently edited material in sensitive areas which required me to be aware of practice in this area.

  • I edited a recent publication from the Mental Health Commission of NSW on women activists and reformers in mental health, released on International Women’s Day in March 2022. The women contributors to the publication had their own ways of referring to their own mental health experiences, and the Mental Health Commission itself also has preferred language.
  • I edited a research report on the participation of people with disability in the workforce. The research team had an advisory group and referred me to a publication by People with Disability Australia that had guided their language and writing here.

The appointment of Dylan Alcott as 2022 Australian of the Year has raised the profile of people with disability, and work will continue to improve understanding and inclusion.

Disability can cover a wide range of experience. People with disability are not one group, and have different preferences in referring to their experience, and there is no single advocacy or advisory group. Practices and preferences in referring to disability, by both individuals and organisations, also change over time, both in the health sector and elsewhere. Editors can advise on changing practices, and best practice for inclusion. In fiction writing, sensitivity editors are increasingly used.

Being inclusive is not just about the words that are used. It’s also about how publications are produced at all steps of the process: the structure, writing, editing, images, layout and dissemination (print and online).

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) supports accessibility in publishing. Inclusive Publishing in Australia: An Introductory Guide, by the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative www.aipi.com.au, was launched at the 2019 IPEd conference.

To work with an accredited editor, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

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