Our words are an extension of our values
Just as our brand truths are evident in the intellectual output of our university, they’re embodied in our visual and verbal languages, as well.
IU should feel like a home to our entire community, and the words we choose can help carry that out. People from all backgrounds, and from across the world, interact with our content. Our audiences are made up of individuals of different abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual identities.
It is those very differences that make us stronger. And being aware of those differences in your writing will make the IU brand more approachable, accessible, and inclusive.
Here’s how you do it
Keep these considerations in mind when developing messaging, in order to be more inclusive:
Avoid idioms, phrases, cultural expressions, or colloquialisms that might be offensive or misinterpreted.
Example: don’t use the word “spaz” when you could say “uncontrolled.”
We speak to different audiences, but we do not discriminate on the basis of disability. You want to remove barriers to entry with your writing. Part of that is about being descriptive, precise, and meaningful when communicating.
Example: you could say “play video” instead of “watch video.” This precise language accounts for the different ways in which your video might be consumed.
Avoid gender-skewed language
Use terms that are gender-neutral rather than those that appear to favor or speak to a single gender.
Example: instead of saying “manpower,” you could say “labor” or “resources.”
Avoid unnecessary expressions of violence
Don’t use idioms or phrases that either literally or figuratively suggest violence when there are innocuous ways to express the same thing.
Example: don’t say “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” when you could simply say “there’s more than one way to get the job done.”
Be careful with jargon
In most cases, writing in plain language is better. If anyone in your audience might not understand your internal language, acronyms, or jargon, that’s enough of a reason not to use it. Be clear, and give your audience the context they need.
Example: don’t use TOTF to signify top-of-the-funnel unless you know your audience is familiar with the acronym. Furthermore, if you use top-of-the-funnel, make sure your audience either knows what it means, or that you’re providing a sufficient explanation.