Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

Language Rubric

ABAI is committed to centering traditionally marginalized voices in the ABAI program as well as ensuring that our conference reflects the lived experience and values of all participants. In 2020, the Program Board began evaluating the language in titles and abstracts for sensitivity and inclusivity of all groups. In our efforts to continually grow as a field and as an association, please use the table below to reflect on the language in your title and abstract before submitting it. This resource was adapted with consultation from Tai Collins from a rubric graciously provided by Landria Green and Vanessa Bethea-Miller of the ABA Taskforce to Eradicate Social Injustice. Please note language that is considered offensive in one culture may be considered standard in another culture and that standards evolve rapidly within each culture. Therefore, our goal in encouraging presenters to consider these standards is not to punish or exclude, nor to create a list of “bad” or “forbidden” words, divorced from context. Instead, we believe that presenters carefully and humbly considering our language from multiple perspectives can help support the global behavior analytic culture in evolving toward greater cultural humility and social justice.


Expectations for All Submissions


Description of populations

  • Abstract provides respectful descriptions of the individuals represented, from a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) perspective.
  • Abstract or title does not include language that has negative undertones, is associated with bias or racism, or that could otherwise be considered discriminatory, offensive, or insensitive to the represented population.


Description of presentation topic

  • Abstract or title describes the presentation topic in a manner that reflects cultural humility and respect for multiple perspectives within a DEI framework.
  • Abstract or title does not include descriptions of the presentation topic that indicate an absence of cultural humility (e.g., we always know what’s best) or a lack of respect for the perspectives of the groups or individuals being discussed.


Presenter Qualifications

It is critical that presenters have the relevant training and/or lived experience to appropriately discuss topics, especially when related to culture or DEI issues. Consider whether the presenter(s) have sufficient expertise and experience presenting on the topic to present it skillfully and avoid unintentionally misrepresenting or offending the groups represented. If the presenter(s) do not share identity and lived experience with the populations being discussed:


  • Has the presenter presented on DEI topics in the past?
  • Has the presenter done clinical or advocacy work in the area of DEI in the past?
  • Has the presenter conducted research on DEI-related topics in the past?


We seek to expand discussion of DEI in ABA by encouraging all presenters to self-reflect on these competencies when developing proposals.


Collaboration and Inclusion

We expect presenters to make every effort to ensure that their team includes individuals who represent the viewpoints of the groups being discussed. We also expect teams to include a diverse range of identities and perspectives.

Modifed by Eddie Soh