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DEI Glossary

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DEI Glossary

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “terms” as a word or expression that has a precise meaning in some uses or is peculiar to a science, art, profession, or subject. To understand the challenging situations when racial justice is lacking and DEI has not been addressed, it is important to recognize the specific terms used in the context of DEI and racial justice.

In the literature of occupational science and occupational therapy, several terms most relevant to DEI have been discussed. These terms are specific to concepts related to occupational justice. These terms are found in occupational science literature, primarily from Durocher, Gibson & Rappolt (2014), Hocking (2017), and Brown & Hollis (2013). These terms are:

Occupational Justice Terms:

  • Occupational Justice (Hocking, 2017): right of all individuals to participate and have equity in occupational choice to increase their well-being.
  • Occupational Rights (Durocher et al., 2014):
    • Right to experience occupation as meaningful and enriching
    • Right to develop through participation in occupations for health and social inclusion
    • Right to exert individual or population autonomy though choice in occupations
    • Right to benefit from fair privileges for diverse participation in occupations

Occupational Injustices:

  • Occupational Marginalization (Durocher et al., 2014): exclusions from participation in occupations based on ‘invisible’ norms and expectations about who should participate in what occupations, which are not restricted by law or policy but rather by habits, traditions and unexamined expectations of behaviors.
  • Occupational Alienation (Durocher et al., 2014): prolonged experience of disconnectedness, isolation, emptiness, lack of a sense of identity, a limited or confined expression of spirit, or a sense of meaningless.
  • Occupational Deprivation (Durocher et al., 2014): state of preclusion from engagement in occupations of necessity and/or meaning due to factors that stand outside the immediate control of the environment.
  • Occupational Apartheid (Durocher et al., 2014): where opportunities for occupation are afforded to some people and restricted to others based on personal characteristics.
  • Occupational Imbalance (Durocher et al., 2014): at the individual level, it is an excessive time spent occupied in one area of life at the expense of other areas, or when timing of occupations is out of alignment with personal or physiological needs/routines. At the societal level, some individuals are offered many opportunities for occupation while others are afforded a few. Economic, political, and cultural structures are largely responsible for situations of imbalance.
  • Occupational Disruption (Brown & Hollis, 2013; Whiteford, 2010): normal pattern of occupational engagement is disrupted by life events.

Below is a comprehensive list of websites with compiled current terminology utilized in the areas of DEI, racial justice, LGBTQIA+, health care disparities, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Each one of them has slightly different focuses. The title of the web page and the date when the page was last updated are listed below.

  • Definitions Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity in APA Documents (n.d.)
    [More Information]
  • Glossary of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Terms at Harvard (n.d.)
    [More Information]
  • Glossary of LGBT Terms for Health Care Teams (2020)
    [More Information]
  • International City/County Management Association (ICMA)’s: Glossary of Terms: Race, Equity and Social Justice (2021)
    [More Information]
  • Pacific University (Oregon) Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Glossary of Terms (n.d.)
    [More Information]
  • San Jose State University: Terms Related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (March 22, 2021)
    [More Information]
  • Racial Equity Tools Glossary (December 2020)
    [More Information]
  • WHO's Gender Quality and Human Rights (2011)
    [More Information]


Brown, H. V., & Hollis, V. (2013). The Meaning of Occupation, Occupational Need, and Occupational Therapy in a Military Context, Physical Therapy, 93:9, 1244 –1253. DOI: 10.2522/ptj.20120162

Durocher, E., Gibson, B. E., & Rappolt, S. (2014). Occupational Justice: A Conceptual Review, Journal of Occupational Science, 21:4, 418 – 430. DOI: 10.1080/14427591.2013.775692

Hocking, C. (2017). Occupational justice as social justice: The moral claim for inclusion, Journal of Occupational Science, 24:1, 29-42, DOI: 10.1080/14427591.2017.1294016

Whiteford, G. (2010). Occupational deprivation: understanding limited participation. In C. Christiansen & E. A. Townsend (Eds.), Introduction to occupation: the art and science of living. (Vol. 2nd, pp. 303-328). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson.