As technical communicators, the documentation we create needs to incorporate a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives, promoting responsiveness and engagement with our message. By embracing inclusive communication, we make our products and services more accessible to everyone. It’s our responsibility to ensure we are including people regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, socioeconomic status, or appearance.
In this resource guide, we have put together links to useful resources for technical communicators who are looking to make their communication more inclusive. If you have any feedback or resources to share, please email Julia Southwick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January Presentation on Diverse and Inclusive Communication
Useful for: A general overview of some aspects and personal stories on diverse and inclusive communication.
Description: Bethany, Jesslyn, and Julia gave a presentation at the January 2021 chapter meeting on diverse and inclusive communication. The topics covered in the presentation are Importance of Inclusive Communication; Writing for Gender Identities, Pronouns, and Neurodiversity; Gender Identities; Pronouns; Neurodiversity; Privilege & Biases; Check your Privilege; Managing your Biases; and Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Tech World: A Case Study in Embracing Diversity. These topics covered are timestamped on our YouTube.
Useful for: A crash-course in all aspects of inclusive communication.
Description: On their blog, Buffer has collected a treasure trove of inclusive communication guidelines, best practices, and examples. Reading this guide will give you the information you need to embrace inclusive language principles and the phrases to use in conversation (ableism, neurodiversity, POC, and many more). As the cherry on top, they include a list of common inclusive substitutions for common patterns.
Useful for: A quick review of phrases and biases to purge from your documentation.
Description: In its corporate style guide, Google provides a detailed list of guidelines and examples for writing inclusive documentation. This includes how to avoid ableist, gendered, and violent language along with examples for writing about features using inclusive language.
Useful for: A concise guide for using gender-neutral pronouns in your documentation.
Description: In their corporate style guide, Google provides a grammatical guide for pronouns, including the gender-neutral they.
Useful for: An overview of how to make technical documentation inclusive.
Description: In these slides, Lucie Le Naour addresses the basics of inclusive documentation and some best practices for making your documentation user-centered.
The Technical Communicator as Advocate: Integrating a Social Justice Approach in Technical Communication
Useful for: An explanation of how principles of diversity, equality, and inclusion can improve technical communication research.
Description: In this article, Natasha Jones argues that embracing a humanistic perspective brings legitimacy to the field of technical communication. By openly addressing the social impacts of communication, tech comm can become a field that “understands, appreciates, and addresses the social contexts in which it operates.”
Useful for: Open-source software that helps you catch inconsiderate writing.
Description: Available for free from Github, Alex can highlight the insensitive text you might use while writing. As well as catching issues, Alex also suggests alternatives. You can try it out in the online demo and it’s also available for Slack.
Useful for: An explanation for how a company to make inclusive communication part of their culture.
Description: In this blog article, PSPDFKit explains how its company prioritized inclusive communication at their company as part of its mission to continuously improve. They address all aspects of inclusivity from their parental leave policy to language used in job ads.
Useful for: Identifying common documentation phrases that are exclusive and finding inclusive alternatives.
Description: Identifies common documentation phrases that are exclusive, why they are exclusive, and finding inclusive alternatives. Stresses writing empathetically and asking others who are not familiar with the topic being documented for feedback.
Useful for: Finding open-source software to help automate the use of inclusive documentation.
Description: Acknowledges that what is and is not inclusive language is always changing and emphasizes continual learning. Continual learning combined with open-source software can help increase inclusive documentation- several open-source software options are listed.
Useful for: Identifying common specific examples of ableist and unnecessarily gendered language and some of their alternatives.
Description: Empress Educators provides a convenient list of terms to use and terms to avoid.
Useful for: Introducing different terms in the LGBT+ community to increase understanding and inclusivity.
Description: A free version of The ABCs of LGBT+ that includes a “Cheat Sheet” at the beginning to define different LGBT+ terms and testimonials from inside the LGBT+ community on how impactful having the correct word(s) to describe oneself can be. The testimonials also describe some individuals’ journey to finding their identity.
Useful for: Identifying how technical communication in the form of a game design document can help or hinder inclusivity in the video game industry.
Description: Although the game design document may or may not be written by technical communicators, the same principles apply. Typically, video games are made by straight white men for other straight white men and the communication surrounding these games can be alienating to other demographics; inclusive technical communication can be used to attract a diverse audience who would otherwise feel like they aren’t allowed to like or play video games.