Posted by: Jack Henry | January 28, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Inclusivity

Good morning, dear readers!

If you’ve been keeping up with the Business Innovation Groups (BIGs) here at Jack Henry, reading Editor’s Corner, or keeping your eye on jhaToday, you have probably seen articles on using more inclusive language here at work. We’ve talked about using the third person for gender neutrality, using non-violent, using fewer non-sexist words, and more.

Today’s topic is a fairly new item in the JHA Style Guide, and it’s about using terms that are considered “ableist.” No, we’re not talking about Cain and Abel, the boys of the bible, we’re talking about ableism, which Merriam-Webster defines as “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.”

The word retarded used to be common, but we’ve learned that using it is thoughtless and cruel. But we still see and use the term disabled in our software and documentation, and it’s time to retrain ourselves.

Guideline: Use unavailable or not available to refer to items on the user interface that are in an unusable state. Do not use disabled.

Here are some examples for you:


  • If you have not selected any text, this option is unavailable.
  • This option is unavailable to non-administrative users. (Or better, “This option is only available to administrative users.”)
  • I am unavailable tonight because I’m washing my hair. (Okay, just kidding on this one!)


  • The Help button is disabled until you click a field.
  • If you do not have a fingerprint authentication system, this icon is disabled.

I know, some of you will tell me that disabled has been used forever and it’s currently used throughout our documentation and software. But the powers that be have determined that this is our rule moving forward, and now is the time for change! It’s up to us to use terms that don’t offend readers or make them think we are insensitive.

Language changes get easier the more you practice! For other suggestions on more inclusive language, see the Inclusivity Worksheet here.

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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