Miniature flags of the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and France sit in a cup on a desk. In the background is a woman typing on a computer. In the foreground, "Inclusive Language" is superimposed.

Accessibility at LabXchange: Inclusive Language

Accessibility at LabXchange

Welcome to our new accessibility series! This month, we’re looking at web accessibility at LabXchange across four blog posts. We’ll cover accessibility in product design, inclusive language, accessibility in web development, and accessible design.  In this post, we’ll introduce LabXchange’s approach to inclusive language in conversation with one of our editors.

Each month we highlight different aspects of LabXchange and the Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science Education project (RDEISE). (Previously, we’ve covered the project’s inception, introduced our graduate fellows and the faculty steering committee, and recently went behind the scenes for an exclusive look at the project's learning designers.)

Historically, the study and practice of science have been inaccessible to many groups and individuals - women, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with limited financial means, just to name a few.

At LabXchange, we are dedicated to making science education more accessible. We aim to understand and respect our global learning community’s evolving needs and perspectives. As part of the Harvard University community, we seek to conform to the university’s Digital Accessibility Policy. The policy is based on The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1, Level AA Conformance (WCAG 2.1 Level AA). We strive to surpass these minimum required standards and to serve as leaders in this space.

Accessibility and Inclusive Language

Inclusion is a crucial aspect of web accessibility. We want as many people to feel included in the online community as possible. Inclusion is also a key principle of the RDEISE project. So naturally, inclusive language is an important part of our writing and editing process. We spoke to editor Chelsea Peterson to understand how we incorporate accessibility and inclusive language into our copywriting.

Q: What is meant by inclusive language?

A: Inclusive language refers to an awareness of diversity. It means communicating in a way that avoids words, phrases, or expressions that exclude, make assumptions about, or discriminate against certain groups of people.

Q: Why is inclusive language important in science education?

A: Historically, there has been a lack of diversity in STEM fields. Using inclusive language can make STEM more welcoming and accessible to people who have generally been underrepresented.

Q: How do we make decisions about language for the RDEISE project?

A: We follow a very comprehensive language style guide that is updated as we learn more and as language changes. Our goal is to use language that is inclusive, accessible, and welcoming to all people, and avoid language that may exclude or be offensive to certain groups.

Additionally, we strive to communicate science in a way that feels welcoming. According to our head of content, Dr. Martin Samuels, “science jargon can be really alienating and impenetrable.” So, at LabXchange, we invite learners into a discussion about science by avoiding unnecessary jargon, using intuitive examples and analogies, and bringing challenging concepts to life in a way that helps everyone learn.

Read the rest of the Blogs in our Accessibility series: Accessible Graphic Design, Accessibility in Web Development, and Accessible Product Design.

Subscribe to our newsletter for future blog posts, in which we’ll profile other teams working behind the scenes of the Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Science Education project.

Written by
LabXchange Accessibility Team

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