Moving Away from Ableist Language in JEiE’s Editorial Process

Anti-racism and Decoloniality
Inclusive Education - Disability

The Journal on Education in Emergencies (JEiE) has removed ableist language, such as “blind study” and “double-blind,” from our editorial policy statements on our website, our communications with the JEiE Editorial Board, and among members of the editorial staff. Moving forward, JEiE will use “anonymous study” or “double-anonymized” to indicate impartiality in the peer-review process. 

People with disabilities have long been stigmatized and disempowered by ableist language. Shelley Tremain, a philosopher of disability, argues in a post on “ableist language and philosophical association” that using “blind review” can be demeaning because “it associates blindness with lack of knowledge and implies that blind people cannot be knowers.” Although the term “blind review” has come to mean a promise of fairness and impartiality in the editorial process, the words can marginalize those with visual impairments and sets back how the discourse on disability has come to be understood over the years. On the other hand, avoiding ableist language can have the effect of making publications and conferences more accessible, inclusive, and comfortable for those with visual impairments. 

We at JEiE want to ensure that our editorial processes are equitable and inclusive of all human diversity. Just as we have seen changes in language use around issues of race, gender identity and sexual orientation, it will serve us well to be more aware of how metaphors based on disability can be damaging and to revise our policies accordingly. We therefore encourage other academic journals and publishers to adopt alternatives to ableist language in the peer-review and publication process.

For more information on the use of ableist language, please refer to Rachel Ades’ blog post, “An End to Blind Review,” in which she succinctly explains the reasons for ending the use of the term in the academic editorial field. J. M. Rodas’ article, “On Blindness,” which appeared in the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, delves deeper into how the broader language of ableism shapes popular culture. 

Ruqaiyah Zarook is an Editorial Assistant at the Journal on Education in Emergencies. 

The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.