On this page: Guiding Questions for Thoughtful Communications | Accessibility

Guiding Questions for Thoughtful Communications

From the NYU Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation

Media and mass communication can create, reinforce, and maintain collective worldviews. Unfortunately, much of this messaging has been established and controlled by individuals who hold power—using incomplete, limited, and/or inaccurate information. However, communications also have the ability to challenge these collective worldviews and transform them into ones that are more equitable and just. We all have a responsibility to communicate from a global inclusion, diversity, belonging, equity, and access (GIDBEA) lens. This requires an ongoing commitment to constant and active reflection, education, discussions with diverse groups of people, and more.

There is no all-encompassing list of things to do (or not do) to ensure “good public-facing communication”—checklists, current terminology, tips, and best practices shift/change over time, and application is often context-specific. Instead, we provide a working list of key questions/reflection points that we use to guide the creation of our various communications. These questions and points of reflection are intended to help unpack individual and collective biases that have been shaped by these communications. And, for instances where current terminology is needed, we do our research. Ideally, this research may include understanding what language and visuals resonate most with the communities you are communicating about on a local, national, and global scale; connecting with particular identity-based groups; reading current news relevant to those communities; conducting focus groups; engaging key stakeholders and university content experts; and connecting with GIDBEA-related groups/committees. Additionally, Google is a great resource for getting a broad range of perspectives in a short time frame.

Guiding Questions

Note: This is a working page. Examples are provided to elucidate the concepts, not to be all-encompassing or to establish an absolute “right” or “wrong” way to communicate.

In Summary

Remember, producing thoughtful communications is an ongoing, reflective process that requires comprehensive intentionality. There is a wealth of information out there that outlines how to create inclusive, intentional communications. Do your research regularly, and remember to consult with relevant content experts, including institutional and community leaders. Much of our shared language has been shaped by people who hold power; keep asking yourself questions that dig deeper into the root of words and their meanings. Challenge your assumptions. What might be “acceptable” today, may not be applicable tomorrow. “Best” ways of communicating about different identities and experiences that are not your own are always evolving, and as a communicator with a platform, you have a responsibility to keep evolving alongside.

^ Back to Top

Purple divider line


NYU is committed to supporting an information technology environment that provides individuals with disabilities an opportunity to participate in the University’s programs, benefits, and services that is equal to that of their peers without disabilities.

Inclusive design considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age, and other forms of human difference.

For communicators, inclusive design means creating content that’s accessible to all people, including those with disabilities and impairments.

Digital Accessibility

Accessibility Checklist

Page Title: Is your page title unique and clear?

Page Layout: Is your page content presented in a logical flow and organized using headings?

Heading Size: Do headings descend in a logical way (e.g., H2, H3)?

  • HTML heading elements also help assistive technology users navigate and orient themselves within a page.
  • Include only one H1 tag for each web page.

Link Text: Does your link text describe the destination clearly?

  • When adding links to your website or document, it is important that the links are descriptive and provide informative context for the site visitor. This allows the site visitor to have a better understanding of the link’s destination.
  • Link text should make sense out of context.

Text Readability: Is text concise on the page and easy to read?

  • Centered text can be difficult for users with cognitive or learning disabilities. However, you can center single line headlines above content. In addition, content that wraps to more than two lines should be aligned left. You should also steer clear of copy that is justified center or aligned right and text in all capitals.

Accessible Fonts:

  • Sans serif fonts are preferred for accessibility. They are easier to read for those with vision loss and cognitive disabilities and anyone reading on a digital device. Ensure that:
    • Text is sized for legibility (i.e., minimum 12 to 14 pt for body text)
    • Text styling (e.g., boldface type, italics, color) is not the only means to convey meaning
    • There is sufficient contrast between text and background colors

Images: Do all images have alt text (including “null” for decorative images)?

Infographics: Is there a full-text explanation for infographics?

Color: Do your graphics convey their message without relying on color?

Videos: Do you have captions or transcripts for spoken word and audio descriptions for information provided visually?

  • Imagine watching a movie without the audio, or listening to dialogue without watching the screen; it would be difficult to understand the full context of the movie.
    • Video and audio should not autoplay
    • Media includes controls to allow the user to stop/start playback
    • Audio files, such as podcasts, should include transcripts

Color Contrast: Is there sufficient contrast between text and background colors?

  • Make sure your text has a high enough color contrast with the background color. You can use a color contrast checker to determine if the combination is compliant.
  • Be sure not to use color alone to differentiate things. Links should use more than color for differentiation (e.g., an underline). Descriptive text should accompany icons and alerts.

Keyboard Operations: Is it possible to operate all active elements using the keyboard?

  • People who are unable to use a mouse or see the screen need to access all website content and functionality through their keyboard alone.
  • When an active element on a web page can only be operated using a mouse, and it’s not possible to use the keyboard to move focus to or activate the element, people who don’t use a mouse will be unable to access information or functionality.

Form Prompts: When form field labels are eliminated and only feature placeholder text, keyboard-only users and people with cognitive impairments may have challenges with form prompts.

  • When designing forms, note that:
    • Form labels should not be replaced with placeholder text
    • Light gray placeholder text has poor color contrast against most backgrounds
    • Not all screen readers can read placeholder text aloud

Additional Resources

Page Headings, Text, and Links

Using Accessible Images and Graphics

Purple divider line