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Eau Claire City Hall building on July 15, 2010.

An effort to adopt more politically correct terms for disabled people and low-income residents led a few on the City Council to ponder if “citizen” and “pedestrian” could bother some Eau Claire residents.

Last week the council voted 10-0 to adopt “people-first” language in its official communications and eventually update its website and code of ordinances to do the same.

What that does is replace references for disabled people to “people with disabilities.” Instances of low-income or poor people would be substituted with “people experiencing low income.”

It was the brainchild of Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle, who said she’s long had the desire to modernize the city’s lexicon to be more inclusive and reflect a more progressive community.

“It really helps to set that culture of who we want to portray as the city of Eau Claire,” she said.

A couple council members had thoughts about other words commonly used by the city.

Councilwoman Emily Anderson said some of her neighbors who aren’t citizens took issue with the city’s use of the word citizen — often used interchangeably with resident or community member — in its official communications.

“They felt that word was a little exclusive,” Anderson said.

“Citizen” appears in mission statements for several city departments and in the title for an online form that residents use to report very minor crimes such as small thefts.

“We might want to think about readjusting the use of that word in our city communications in the future,” Anderson said.

Though he didn’t commit to seeking a review of its use, Councilman Jeremy Gragert mused how often he’s heard the term “pedestrian” in the many talks he’s been a part of as an advocate for bicycling, public transportation and other forms of travel that don’t use an automobile. He posed that “people-first language” could replace pedestrian with “person who is walking.”

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