Glossary of Terms

Here is a glossary of terms that are used on the Pledge website. We recognize and celebrate that these terms and definitions are always evolving, and we strive to use language that is inclusive and accurate.

The following terms apply to both the “Roles for…” categories, and the “Playwright/Creator(s) Identifying As…” search options.

D/deaf, Disabled, and/or Mad

This is a phrase that refers to people who have a disability. D/deaf refers to people who have limited or no functional hearing, and are often dependent on visual communication. Some people who are deaf identify as having a disability, while others identify as Culturally Deaf. This refers not to a disability, but to a distinct cultural experience. Disabled is a social construct that generally refers to people who have a physical or mental disability that restricts their ability to perform certain activities. Disabilities may be actual or perceived, visible or invisible, short or long term. Mad is a term that refers to people with mental health disabilities. The word has been reclaimed by the disability arts movement. It is used as a socio-political identifier connoting the unique experience of people with mental health disabilities. Search for plays by D/deaf, Disabled, and/or Mad Playwrights here.

Indigenous Peoples

This is an umbrella term used around the world referring specifically to First Peoples, the descendants of the original inhabitants of the land, who are considered distinct from colonial culture. In Canada, the terms Aboriginal, Native, and First Nations are often used interchangeably. However, these terms are rejected by many due to the potential for conflation, suggesting a single, homogenous nation or identity, which is not the case. As such, the term “Indigenous Peoples” is adopted here, referring to North American “Indian,” Métis, and Inuit identities. People do not need to be registered with the government as “Status Indians” to identify as Indigenous. For plays by Indigenous Peoples, click here.


Men is the plural form of the word “man,” a gendered term that is socially constructed, based on the biology of sex organs denoting an adult male of the human species. Due to socialization, masculine characteristics are generally associated with this gender, which is contrasted with and often considered opposite to that of women. The term men is employed here in the most inclusive sense possible, representing cis and transgendered folks.

Person/People of Colour (BIPOC, IBPOC)

This is an imperfect phrase that refers to racialized people who are not Caucasian. The phrase People of Colour is adopted to highlight that the colour of a person’s skin is a defining factor in how they experience the world. The acronyms BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour) and IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, Person of Colour) have also emerged in common use, highlighting Indigenous experience in North America as “First Peoples First,” as well as a shared history of enduring racism experienced by Indigenous people, Black folks, and people of colour.

The above terms are inadequate, as they further generalize and perpetuate binary thinking, lumping together a group of people and defining them in opposition to the perceived norm: whiteness. Nonetheless, for the time being, these are the most appropriate terms at hand, and they are used here to refer to people who identify as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Pacific Islander, South Asian, West Asian, Central Asian, North African, African, Black, Caribbean, Latinx, South American, and more. Search for plays by POC Playwrights here, by Black Playwrights here, and by Indigenous Playwrights here.


This term is an acronym that stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. The plus sign refers to the fact that there are many other identification categories included under this label that do not conform to society’s traditional gender binary, such gender non-conforming, non-binary, gender-fluid, gender expansive, gender queer, gender variant, polygendered, pangendered, non-cis-gendered, and more. Search for plays by 2SLGBTQIA+ Playwrights here.


Women is the plural form of the word “woman,” which is a socially constructed gender term denoting an adult female human being as defined by sexual biology. Due to socialization, feminine characteristics are generally associated with this gender, which is usually contrasted with that of men. The term women is employed here in the most inclusive sense possible, representing both cis and transgendered folks.

Additional Readings and References for Glossary of Terms:

“A Way with Words and Images.” Accessibility Resource Centre. The Government of Canada. 2013.

“About DDMAAC.” The Deaf, Disability & Mad Arts Alliance of Canada.

“Education and Training – The 519 Glossary of Terms.” The 519.

“Gender Equality Glossary.” UN Women Training Centre. 2011 – 2017.

“IBPOC Artistic Practices.” Primary Colours.

“LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary.” Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Centre. The University of California, Davis Campus. 2017.